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June 1, 2012 1:47 am

Palestinian Principal Punished for Beach Party in Israel

avatar by Lakkana Nanayakkara

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Tel Aviv beach. Photo: wiki commons.

A Palestinian principal has been sacked after his students took part in a spontaneous beach party during a field trip to Israel. Mohammad Abu Samra, the 33-year-old principal of Al Salam Secondary School in Qalqiliya, West Bank, organized a picnic outing for 45 pupils of grade 11 and 12 to Jaffa beach in Israel.

According to Abu Samra, an Israeli DJ began setting up on the beach as the group was leaving to board buses. The pupils started dancing spontaneously and were joined by Israeli beachgoers, including scantily-clad women. Video and photos taken on the beach showed the pupils dancing with bikini-wearing women, which was apparently considered to be a disgrace by the pupils’ families.

Abu Samra said, “Those Israelis and a child joined us on the dance floor and I could not object or ask them to leave. It was purely unintentional and that has affected my future.”

He added that, “Volunteers shot a video and took a couple of still photos and forwarded them to the Palestinian Ministry of Education, with a complaint that the incident would imply that there was normalisation of ties with Israel and it exposed the young generation of Palestinians to Israel’s illicit code of conduct.”

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He was given the choice of either being demoted to the position of a teacher with a final warning or to be voluntarily transferred to a far-away school. Students have reportedly protested the education ministry’s decision to transfer Abu Samra to a school more than 30km away from his home.

A senior official from the Palestinian Ministry of Education, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said “although the picnic was licensed by the ministry, mixing with Israelis on the beach should not have been allowed”.

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