Beersheba blocks Mahsom Watch exhibit

City Hall: Decision to bar checkpoint photographs is municipal, not political.

idf checkpoint 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
idf checkpoint 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
The mayor of Beersheba decided Wednesday to not allow human rights group Mahsom Watch to hold an exhibition of photographs taken at checkpoints throughout the West Bank. The exhibition seeks to show how Palestinians are treated by Israeli soldiers. The exhibit was supposed to be held in the city's Pedagogic Center. The municipality had previously granted permission for the exhibition, which was revoked Wednesday by the mayor. "This is a municipal-educational issue, and we don't need to get into a political debate," said city officials. Mahsom Watch responded by saying that the right to freedom of speech must be protected, and criticized the mayor for not wanting to expose city residents to events that were taking place a short distance away from them. "People are living completely separate lives just a half-hour drive from Be'er Sheva, and it wouldn't hurt anyone to see the problem with their lives and the lives of Palestinians under occupation," a Mahsom Watch spokeswoman told Army Radio. "What authority does the mayor have to decide what the residents of his city will and will not see?" Mahsom Watch is now trying to find another venue for its exhibition. The organization is affiliated with Women for Human Rights. It was founded in January 2001 in response to repeated media reports about human rights abuses of Palestinians crossing army and border police checkpoints.