Racial segregation on Israeli public bus: driver refused to transport Palestinian workers 21Aug12 August 21, 2012

Alternative Information Centre   -   20 August 2012

A bus driver on the line from Tel Aviv to the West Bank settlement of Ariel did not allow Palestinians from the West Bank onto his bus. When forced to by a police officer, the driver made the workers get off the bus at the Barkan settlement, which was not their destination.*

On 9 August several Palestinian passengers wishes to get on the bus from the Tel Aviv central bus station to the West Bank settlement of Ariel so they could return home to the West Bank. The driver refused to let them on and called the police. The police officer who arrived, however, told him that as the workers possessed work permits, public transportation regulations meant the driver had to take them.

Neriah Marek, another passenger on the bus, told the Israeli media outlet nrg.co.il that at the entrance to the settlement of Barkan the driver called the settlement guard and requested that he take the Palestinians off the bus. “When they got off the driver said to a passenger that ‘only this way they will learn, everyone who got on today will not get on anymore,’” related Marek.

Marek sent a letter to Israel’s Ministry of Transportation stating that “the behaviour of the driver was racist, discriminating between people based on nationality, and thus a gross violation of the orders of the police officer. The driver humiliated people and treated them as inferior.”

The Director of Afikim Public Transportation, Ben Hor Ahvat, told nrg that tThe driver acted precisely as expected of him.” “The policy is to board every passenger who has money to pay the far. That means we have no choice but to also board Palestinians in Israel and to take them to Judea and Samaria, even though this creates problems with the Israeli passengers and there is physical and verbal violence from both sides.”

According to Ahvat, it is the authority of every driver to decide that a Palestinian is suspicious and to call the police, as occurred in this case. He emphasized that the driver fulfilled the police officer’s orders. “Within Judea and Samaria the situation is different as it is prohibited for Palestinians to enter Israeli communities without a permit from the security officer and an armed person accompanying him, and there was accordingly a need to take them off,” he explained.

Ahvat adds that “the Palestinians make their lives easy when they travel with us via the Cross Samaria Highway, which is meant for Israelis only.”

Israel’s Ministry of Transportation responded that “The complaint will be checked and taken care of as is normal in such cases. Palestinian passengers possessing permits to enter Israel are permitted to use the transportation services.”

Samaria Regional Council, where the Barkan settlement is located, responded that: “According to directives of the {army’s} Central Command, community and industrial areas are prohibited for Palestinians to enter..unless they possess a work permit specifically for that place. ..”An entry permit to Tel Aviv is not an entry permit to Barkan according to the directives of the security system.”

 *This article was corrected on 20 August. The original text noted that Afikim had Veolia’s contracts for Road 443. However, these contracts were transferred in the last tender to the Kavim Company.


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