Israel to Allow Gender-segregated Swimming in Dead Sea Nature Reserve

הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf
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Enot Tsukim Nature Reserve in the northern Dead Sea in the West Bank, 2017.
Enot Tsukim Nature Reserve in the northern Dead Sea in the West Bank, 2017.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority will launch a pilot project this month for gender-segregated swimming in the Enot Tsukim Nature Reserve in the northern Dead Sea in the West Bank.

The first phase will include two days in which only men can swim in the reserve and two alternate days in which only women will be allowed to use the lower pools in the reserve. In addition, mixed-gender swimming will be allowed at the large pool at the site.

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According to the authority, the decision to conduct the pilot project came at the request of the religious public and several organizations, whose names were not provided. Once the pilot concludes, it will be decided how to proceed, the authority said.  

The right-wing human rights organization Btsalmo, which submitted the request to the Justice Ministry, asking to allow gender-segregated bathing, said in response: “There is no doubt that the religious public, which pays taxes like anyone else, has the right to enjoy the nature reserves while preserving its lifestyle."

A similar pilot was held at Gan Hashlosha National Park in August, allowing separated bathing for women and men in two different pools at the site in the afternoons, after regular opening hours.

The Justice Ministry said in a statement that “The request was received by the office of the deputy attorney general and it is now being reviewed through a dialogue between government ministries and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, following a very limited pilot and noting the various aspects raised by a request for gender-segregated swimming.”

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