HAIFA, Saturday, August 07, 2021 (WAFA) – Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel has sent an urgent letter to Israeli Attorney General (AG) Avichai Mandelblit, demanding to clarify that the measures undertaken by the municipalities of Netanya, Acre, and Hadera blocking the access of Palestinians to beaches within their respective jurisdictions are illegal.
The letter, sent by Adalah Attorney Rabea Eghbariah, was accompanied by Adalah’s inquiries to the Israeli municipalities of Acre and Netanya, after they took action to prevent Palestinians from reaching the shores under the guise of dealing with the spread of the coronavirus. Adalah argued that all of these measures were illegally taken without any authority.
Adalah’s demand of the AG follows the decision taken by the Israeli city council of Acre on 4 August to erect a fence around Argaman Beach and to allow entrance only to holders of "Green Pass" certificates (proof of vaccination or immunity to coronavirus). By law, COVID-19 regulations in Israel are determined solely by the Israeli government through its Corona Cabinet, and currently do not include any restrictions on movement in public, open spaces.
Adalah argues that not only were these measures taken by the city council illegally, but also were intended to prevent Palestinian visitors from the West Bank from accessing the shores of Acre under the pretext of public health.
The Acre municipality also imposed other measures to block access to the coast, including preventing private buses from entering roads leading to the Argaman Beach. In an earlier letter to the municipality following the council’s decision of 14 July, to allocate a special budget for the fence, Adalah demanded that the municipality immediately cease all such restrictions.
A day after the council’s decision, journalist Rafat Aker, a Palestinian citizen of Israel, documented municipal inspectors forcing Palestinians from the West Bank city of Jenin, back into their vehicles and accompanying them out of the city. This measure was taken despite the fact that some Palestinians stated that they are vaccinated and have legal entry and stay permits.
Shortly after these events, Adalah also learned that similar instructions were given by Hadera Mayor Zvi Gendelman. Adalah subsequently sent a letter to Gendelman demanding that the city immediately cease such unlawful actions.
In 2019, Adalah challenged a ban imposed by the Afula municipality on the entrance of non-residents to its park. In this case, the Nazareth district court determined that local authorities are prohibited by law to restrict access to public, open spaces like beaches or parks.
The AG then, in rare move, filed his position on the case to the court, supporting Adalah’s demand.