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Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Thousands of PalArabs visit Tel Aviv beaches - for Ramadan

Maariv has a story about how Palestinian Arabs take advantage of the easy access to Israel during Ramadan.

Officially, most of the passes are meant for them to visit the Al Aqsa Mosque, but tens of thousands of these Palestinians visiting the beach instead of, or in addition to, their prayers.

They are also spending lots of money.

 "For the first time in my life I was in Tel Aviv," said Ligal Atz'ai, 24, who came to the city for a fun day with some friends from Ramallah. "I've always dreamed of Tel Aviv's beach, which I saw in pictures. When I got here this morning I was struck by the beauty of the city." Atz'ai is an aluminum factory worker near Beit Horon. Two weeks ago he asked permission from the Civil Administration to enter Israel for travel during Ramadan.

He is one of a million Palestinians who received or will receive a permit to enter Israel as tourists during Ramadan. Thousands of them filled yesterday the beaches of first Hebrew city. Lifeguards were alerted about the throngs about to flood the coast in the coming weeks. "They are not disciplined," declared one of the lifeguards. "Some are so excited about entering in the sea for the first time, but they do not know the rules and the dangers of the sea."

"For me it's like being abroad," admits Mahmud Adna, a 20 year old student from the Ramallah area who did not hide his excitement for his visit to the Holy Land. "I want to be in Paris and Berlin, but from what I hear Tel Aviv is not much different from the cities of Europe. This is my first time here. I only had time to walk in the sea, and the next time I want to hang out in Jaffa. "
So far, 100,000 permits have been issued, but far more will be given out for the end of Ramadan, the holiday Eid al Fitr.

Many of the Arabs interviewed were seeing normal Israelis for the first time, and some showed appreciation for being allowed to come into Israel.

Maariv also interviewed some shopkeepers in Ramallah who are staring at their empty stores while their potential customers flock to Israel and spend twice as much for the same products. The article ends off:

Mahmoud from Hebron is one of the few who did not receive permission to visit Israel. "It's really upsetting," he admits. "I did crap as a kid a few years ago, and now they will not let me enter. All my friends are going to 'tear up Jaffa and Tel Aviv', and I'll have to make do with things they will bring me back." ...Most Palestinian tourists who entered and experienced Israeli vacation are already planning their next vacation - another day of fun on the beaches of Tel Aviv and Jaffa's markets. "What I saw today, it was an experience," says Mariuv Ashi, 25, who lives in a small village between Ramallah and Jerusalem, shortly after leaving the water . "I loved everything here - the food, the sea and the air and even the pretty girls walking around on the beach. Inshallah, tomorrow I will come again, but I have to go home to the village by ten o'clock tonight, because these are the terms of the permit to stay in Israel."
They're not exactly boycotting Israel, are they?