Security guards at an Israeli hospital detained 10 Arab and Jewish activists Sunday, January 20, for an act of civil disobedience protesting a policy that singles out, removes, and inspects Palestinian-Arab citizens of Israel on a public bus line in southern Israel.
The activists, mostly members of Hadash, from the grassroots protest movement Standing Together, were removed from the bus at the entrance to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon, after refusing to show their identification cards and demanding to know why non-Arab passengers weren’t asked to show theirs.
For several months now, security guards at the hospital have been asking passengers deemed to appear Arab to show their IDs. If they are Palestinian, the guards make them step off the bus and are only allowed back on as it leaves the hospital premises.
“This kind of segregation is exactly what those behind the ‘Nation-State’ Law had hoped for: to show Israeli society that there is legitimacy for discrimination in all aspects of life between Jewish and Arab citizens in Israel,” said Standing Together activist Uri Weltmann. “We won’t accept racial segregation— not on buses or anywhere else.”
The hospital and bus company insist that only Palestinian residents of the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza (i.e., not citizens of Israel) are singled out for extra inspection and removed from the bus line as it enters the hospital, justifying the practice on ambiguous security grounds. Since the practice was first publicized in a Facebook post last week, a number of Israeli human rights organizations, Hadash and Joint List leader MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash) have demanded that the hospital, the bus company, Israeli Health Ministry and Transportation Ministry, immediately stop the practice.