The head of Rahat's business licensing department tried to prevent the IDF from establishing an exhibition of its tanks and weaponry at the entrance to the Bedouin town on Monday, apparently on orders from the mayor, who is a representative of the Islamic Movement.
Traditionally, every Independence Day, sees the army choose various locations throughout the country to showcase its weapons for the benefit of Israel's citizens. A lot at the entrance to Rahat was approved by police as well as the local authority for the exhibit.
But on Monday morning Sami Abu-Sahiban, whose department is preparing to construct its headquarters on the lot, was found yelling at IDF representatives to go home.
"You don't respect the authority under which you are acting. You don’t have the proper permits. Let's see you do this type of thing in Tel Aviv," he said, unmoved by the permits shown to him by the officials present.
Some of the soldiers who were present at the scene are Bedouin, and many of them confessed to feeling uncomfortable. A few explained that Rahat Mayor Faiz Abu Sahiban, who represents the Islamic Movement in the city, was behind the outburst.
"The municipality would prefer to have Nakba Day here rather than Independence Day. They want to show the residents that they are ostensibly objecting to the exhibit," said a source from the defense Ministry who resides in Rahat. "They have to behave this way."
The mayor did not deny the allegations, explaining that in prior years the exhibition was held outside the city's territory but that this year the army wanted it to be inside. "This makes the residents uncomfortable," he said.
"When the army does navigation training in the area they don't update us either. This is no way to behave. They bring tanks here, what for? We can see tanks on TV. Let them bring Iron Dome."
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