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Caught on tape: Arab denied entry to Israeli swimming club

Published: Updated:

An undercover journalist has secretly videotaped a clerk at a swimming facility in Israel clearly hinting that its "locals-only policy" aims to keep out Arabs, The Huffington Post reported on Monday.

The journalist was dispatched to the facility to report on the story after a Palestinian teacher, Tahir Marisat, was not allowed to buy a ticket last Tuesday to enter the Beersheba Country Club and after telling him the facility was strictly for the use of local residents.

According to the Electronic Intifada, Marisat is a local resident who has been living in the city for 11 years. However, he is originally from Tamra, north of Israel, and his identity card still bears his old address.

“We just wanted to go to the pool. The clerk said [we couldn’t] because they did not let anyone who was not a Beersheba resident into the facility," Marisat told Israeli news channel Maariv.

“But I personally know people who have gotten in, even on that very day [Tuesday], who were not Beersheba residents. I suggested to the clerk that we ask a few random people in the facility if they were residents and she declined.”

After being refused entry to the facility, Marisat, 32, contacted Israel's Channel 10 morning talk show which in turn dispatched an undercover journalist to the club.

Upon arriving to the club, the Jewish reporter was allowed in right away although he did inform the cashier that he is a not a Beersheba resident and inquired if this is a problem.

The conversation between the journalist and the cashier was secretly videotaped, as translated by +972 mag. Addressing the reporter, the cashier can be heard clarifying that the rules "are for certain populations, not for you."

As the journalist resumes the conversation and asks : “Ah, so a lot of Bedouin come here?” The cashier responds with "yes."

“It hurts that we still see such prejudice towards Arabs in Israeli society," Marisat told the Times of Israel.

"Unfortunately, racism towards Israeli Arabs has increased in recent years.”

The club however denied it has a policy that does not allow local Bedouin, telling the daily it has "clear rules for entry. Any resident of Beersheba and nearby towns, without regard to sector or ethnicity, may purchase an annual subscription."

The club added that the decision to let in the reporter - who informed the cashier he is not a resident - was "a violation of our rules."