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An Israeli hospital is being condemned by human rights' activists after forcing Palestinian visitors off a bus to be searched.
An Israeli hospital in the city of Ashkelon, in southern Israel showed clear bias, and some may argue, unethical behaviour after forcing Palestinians off a bus headed to their premises, before being searched.
The controversy stems from the fact that Israeli passengers can continue their ride uninterrupted, while Palestinians are forced to undergo a security check.
Haaretz news outlet reported that the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Physicians for Human Rights have documented that Palestinians who take Dan Badarom’s line 18 have to get off the public bus at the entrance to the Barzilai Medical Center and undergo a security check.
Haaretz published a video that showed a daily bus ride on line 18, during which the bus is seen stopping at the entrance to the hospital, a female security guard entering and then a number of Palestinian passengers exiting the bus with the guard, who doesn’t check any other passengers or force them to exit the bus.
The bus driver explained to one of the passengers that the passengers who are forced to exit the bus “are Arabs who work with a permit here, in Israel. They enter the hospital, it’s security. They are checked. She took them off and now I’ll pick them up.”
Reportedly if Palestinians do not exit the bus themselves, they will be forced by the security guard off of the bus.
Dan Badarom said that it follows the instructions it receives from the hospital, “On the part of the route where the bus enters Barzilai hospital in Ashkelon, we are subject to the instructions of its security department and obligated to act according to those instructions.”
He says only those with a green ID card, identifying them as being from the West Bank and Gaza, must undergo a search of their belongings, including a metal detector sweep to check for weapons.
The hospital's claim that the rule only applies to those from the West Bank or Gaza, are disputed by a passenger named as Yehudit who told Sicha Mekomit she witnessed several instances where Palestinians with blue ID cards (given to Palestinian-Israeli citizens and residents of East Jerusalem) were being told to get off the bus.
“Recently, a woman with a hijab and her husband were carrying a bouquet of flowers in their hands, and they had a blue identity card but they took them off the bus,” she said.
Physicians for Human Rights warned the hospital about continuing their methods and said, “A medical institution is first and foremost obligated to the rules of medical ethics and respecting human dignity, and therefore is supposed to prevent any racist behavior within its gates.”
Meanwhile, over 2,500 activists from the Zizim organization have signed a complaint against the hospital and bus company, demanding "the abolition of racist discrimination at the gates of the hospital between Arab and Jewish passengers on route 18."
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel warned the hospital the practice reflects “a policy of profiling that attributes dangerousness and suspicion to an entire group of people based on their ethnicity or nationality.”
Some have questioned the need to search the commuters who must wait at the entrance if they are not allowed to travel into the hospital anyway. “There is sensitivity around hospitals, but it does not justify this behavior, you do a search, you see that everything is okay – let them in. If you're not going to let people in – why are you doing a search?” Hadas Ziv of Physicians for Human Rights (PHR-Israel) asked.