Due to a suspicion that Orthodox Jews from Modiin Illit are being excluded from the Modiin-Maccabim-Reut municipality’s Anabe Park, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel on Tuesday sent Modi’in Mayor Haim Bibas a letter demanding the termination of the city’s policy restricting access solely to Modi’in residents during summer and holidays.
According to ACRI Chief Legal Counsel, Dan Yakir: “The fact that the park was built on municipal land does not mean that the municipality can do whatever it wants with it. Public space, such as this park, is designated for the public at large. It is unacceptable for local authorities to attempt to restrict the public’s ability to access parks under their control.”
Overcrowding was offered by the city as the official rationale for a policy restricting entrance to the park, according to a Tuesday ACRI press release. Also according to ACRI, charging for entrance to public parks is illegal and the organization has taken up the issue in the past with other municipalities.
The release stated that the letter sent to Bibas explained that preventing people from entering the city park “violates the right to equality, and in practice constitutes prohibited discrimination against a religious group.”
The municipality has secured its own opinion, offered by Professor Ariel Bendor, which it believes supports Modiin’s policy. ACRI does not agree with that opinion.