Israel has been accused of “blatant racism” by Arabs in the north of the country, who are being paid less compensation following the war in Lebanon than their Jewish neighbours.
The Israeli finance ministry has begun giving handouts to thousands of business owners near the border with Lebanon whose incomes were hit by the 34-day war against Hizbollah.
It has designated a “frontline” zone, up to six miles from the border, within which the owners are to be fully compensated for their losses during the hostilities.
But four villages, whose residents are Arab Israeli, have been excluded from the zone, despite their proximity to Lebanon. Samuel Dakwar, a lawyer who is acting for some of the affected Arab businesses, said: “This is racism. I tried to find other reasons, besides discrimination against Arabs, that could cause a rational being like the finance minister to make such a miserable and irrational decision. I could not find them.
The Arab-Israeli minority rights group Adalah has submitted a legal claim on behalf of the four Arab villages, demanding the government change its stand on giving them only partial, not full, compensation.
“The Hezbollah missiles didn’t distinguish between Arabs and Jews, so there’s no reason for the compensation to do so,” said Adalah lawyer, Sawsan Zaher.