Israeli Court Halts ‘Racist’ Park Entry Ban in Afula (VIDEO)

A photo of Afula park. (Photo: via Social Media)

A court on Sunday ordered a predominantly Jewish town in northern Israel to lift a ban on non-resident visitors to its parks, a prohibition that a rights group said was aimed at keeping Arabs out.

The town of Afula denied the edict was racially motivated.

In instructing the town to lift the order, Judge Danny Sarfati stopped short of accusing it of racism and cited a legal opinion by Israel’s attorney general, who said municipal parks were public property open to all.

Afula imposed the prohibition a month ago, effectively cutting off access to the 10-hectare (25-acre) park by residents of nearby Arab villages who frequented the popular site.

Fady Khoury, a lawyer with Adalah, an Arab rights group that raised the challenge in Nazareth district court, said:

“This was really to exclude Palestinian citizens from entering the park.” 

Lawyers for Afula, a city of 50,000 people, contended the restrictions stemmed solely from a desire to reduce overcrowding during the summer months and keep maintenance costs down.

On Saturday, guards inspected identification cards at several entrances to Afula Municipal Park, where families strolled past playgrounds and petting zoos and joggers ran along trails lined with Israeli flags.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

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