According to Israel Hayom, Israeli Environmental Protection Minister Idit Silman plans to implement gender-specific swimming hours this summer at some of the nation’s natural springs outside of the locations’ regular operation hours.
In the beginning, the trial program will only feature two Israeli government-run attractions: one in the Gan Hashlosha National Park near Beit She’an and one in the Einot Tzukim Nature Reserve close to the Dead Sea.
The program won’t change the current arrangement at the sites because it will only take place between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., which avoids a sensitive topic as more religious groups call for segregated bathing hours while liberal groups see this as a step toward the marginalization of women. to 9 p.m. later on. By 5 p.m., Israeli natural springs are often closed to bathers.
A draft law proposed earlier this year by United Torah Judaism Knesset member Moshe Gafni proposes allocating at least 15% of such establishments’ operating hours for gender-segregated bathing.
The Justice Ministry rejected an earlier attempt to implement such a program at Ein Tsukim because it was discriminatory. Israel’s natural resources, according to Silman, “belong to everyone, so when I took office, I focused on finding innovative ways to make public spaces and parks accessible to all publics, including the Haredi populations.”
The trial program, she continued, “will only operate outside of the official operating hours and will give more sectors the chance to enjoy the natural springs that they have avoided up until now due to their way of life—without having an impact on the members of the general public who bathe there during normal hours.”