Israeli cities impose beach apartheid on Palestinians

Women and children play on a beach in the sea

Palestinians on Jaffa beach last month. The city is inaccessible to most Palestinians from the West Bank, but some managed to get permits or evade Israeli restrictions. Other Israeli cities are now closing beaches to Palestinians.

Oren Ziv ActiveStills

Three Israeli coastal cities are being slammed by a civil rights group for effectively banning Palestinians from their beaches.

Hadera, Netanya and Akka – known in English as Acre – are guilty of “apartheid initiatives that express a goal of achieving racial segregation,” said a lawyer for the group Adalah.

Video shot by journalist Rafat Aker last week shows a busload of Palestinian men on an apparent day trip from the city of Jenin being denied access to the beach by police and local authorities.

You can watch the full video in a mixture of Arabic and Hebrew below.

“The images seen in Akka leave no room for the imagination: Municipal inspectors forcibly expelled Palestinians outside city limits solely because they are Palestinian,” Adalah lawyer Rabea Eghbariah said.

“The municipality is acting without any authority whatsoever,” he added.

Adalah argues that local authorities are using the ongoing coronavirus pandemic as a pretext to mask their apartheid policies against Palestinians.

The group, which advocates for equal Palestinian rights inside Israel, said that the men in the video appeared to have the correct permits and some had even been vaccinated.

Jenin is a Palestinian city in the West Bank. Akka is a city inside Israel, the part of historic Palestine which was occupied in 1948 and from which most Palestinians were illegally expelled.

Israel operates a complicated system of identification cards, passes and permits which have the effect of denying Palestinians equal rights to Jewish Israeli citizens – regardless of whether the latter live inside so-called Israel proper or as colonial settlers in the occupied West Bank.

The video shows Israeli police compelling the Palestinians to get back on their bus and accompanying them out of town on police mopeds.

Adalah said that it was taking urgent legal action against the Akka municipality, along with Hadera and Netanya, the two other coastal cities it says have taken similar measures against Palestinians.

The group explained that the city’s measures “were intended to prevent Palestinian visitors from the West Bank from accessing the shores of Akka under the pretext of public health.”

It pointed to video of the mayor decrying the recent arrival of “buses coming from Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] from Nablus, Jenin, Hebron and others.”

Adalah also noted that the mayor of Netanya recently vowed not to allow Palestinians to enter the city during the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday.

This is far from the first time that Israeli authorities have imposed “petty apartheid” on Palestinians.

In 2019 the Israeli mayor of the city of Afula effectively banned Palestinians from a local park, including even Palestinian citizens of Israel.

He had imposed guards at the park entrances with a large sign stating it was for the use of “residents only” – yet only Palestinians were restricted in this way, not Israeli Jews. Adalah challenged the ban and it was ultimately overturned.

In 2013 a public Israeli swimming pool refused entry to a group of children with cancer just because they were Arab.

And a year earlier, Palestinians were turned away from an Israeli-run Dead Sea beach resort, while Jewish Israelis, European tourists and even dogs were allowed to enter freely.




Di Adriatici é pieno Israele, da noi li arrestano la gli danno encomi, per quello Salvini, super razzista anti migranti é entusiasta di Israele e vorrebbe portare in Italia il loro sistema di apartheid.


Yes, as Abramo says, Salvini would like to import Israel's apartheid and he is far from the only one. Israel is admired by leaders across the globe who want to control their populations, impose false distinctions of race or ethnicity, summon the devils of the worst in human nature to keep them in power. The petty apartheid in play here is, of course, not petty at all when you are the receiving end. It wasn't petty when Rosa Parks was told she couldn't sit on the bus; it was a plain denial of her humanity. That's why such apparently petty matters are so important to vile regimes. Control the little things and you have control over everything. As authoritarianism spreads, to the extent that the UK Labour Party, brought into existence by working people to further their interests of democracy and equality is now in the hands of a man who gives unequivocal support to Israeli apartheid and makes pariahs of anyone who dares to defend Palestinian rights. Israel's racism, State control, arbitrary power, entrenched hypocrisy and wayward sense of messianic entitlement become attractive to political leaders for whom democracy and openness are inconvenient. What on the surface looks petty is deeply malicious and consistently undermining of their dignity and humanity for those who experience it. Not to be able to dip your toes in the sea when your neighbours can is a killing insult. All dictators pay attention to such details. It's lovers of freedom who are easy-going.

Asa Winstanley

Asa Winstanley's picture

Asa Winstanley is an investigative journalist who lives in London. He is an associate editor of The Electronic Intifada and co-host of our podcast.

He is author of the bestselling book Weaponising Anti-Semitism: How the Israel Lobby Brought Down Jeremy Corbyn (OR Books, 2023).