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Saturday, October 31

Israeli Drivers Refuse to Let Palestinians Board Bus to West Bank
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Drivers on 286 line from Tel Aviv to Ariel ask passengers for Israeli ID – those who fail to produce one are sent to a different line, Channel 10 reports; bus company promises to take ‘severe’ disciplinary action.

Ha’aretz

Bus drivers on the Tel Aviv-Ariel line are refusing to let Palestinian passengers board the bus, a Channel 10 reported on Friday, even though Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon instructed earlier this year to freeze the plan for segregated bus lines in the West Bank.

The Channel 10 footage documents drivers of the 286 bus line asking passengers for an Israeli ID and sending those lacking one to another line, even though a ticket vendor tells the passengers that the buses are not segregated. “Do you have a blue ID card? No? Go down, to the 386 line,” a driver is heard telling a Palestinian who wants to reach his home in the West Bank. “I’m not negotiating with you… go down, your bus will arrive shortly.”

The driver is later overheard saying: “There’s no such thing as a good Arab. Even one who looks so nice, so quiet, he isn’t. There’s no such thing.”

Afikim, the company which operates bus lines in the West Bank, responded to the report and told Channel 10 that the drivers had acted on their own initiative, which they said contradicted the company’s policy. “If a bus driver refuses to allow a Jew or Arab to board he is acting in complete contradiction of the company’s directives and those of the Transportation Ministry,” they said, promising to take “severe” disciplinary action against the drivers. Ben Hur Ahavat, the company’s CEO, said “anyone who wishes to take the bus can do so regardless of their identity. Our drivers have received explicit instructions about this and they allow everyone to board.

One of the drivers told Channel 10 that they will take Palestinian passengers when the situation calms down. “You just can’t drive them these days, when you hear of another stabbing and another stabbing. This way, you don’t feel like driving them.”

The mayor of the Ariel settlement, Eliyahu Shaviro, told Channel 10: “Today we’re in a reality that anyone can pick up a knife and stab. Would you, or anyone else who watches us, would any father or mother who have a boy or a girl and on a certain bus there are 90 percent Palestinians, would he send his kid on that bus?”

In May, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon put on hold a plan to segregate Jews and Palestinians on West Bank public transportation lines, after the idea inspired massive criticism.



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