Where the Streets have No Name: Israel leaves Palestinians in Postal “Dark Age”

Hundreds of Umm al-Fahm’s streets remain nameless as Israel refuses to allow the town’s Palestinians to honour their national icons

In the town of Umm al-Fahm, more than a third of all letters never reach their destination. Identity cards, passports and drivers’ licences go missing, welfare cheques are lost, appointments expire, and penalties mount up over unpaid fines.

GPS navigation apps like Waze fail, taxis struggle to find customers, and private delivery companies have to be met at the town’s entrance and escorted in.

It is scene of administrative chaos more appropriate for a village in remotest rural Africa than a town of 60,000 residents in central Israel, one of the wealthiest and most developed countries in the world.

For decades Umm al-Fahm’s 301 streets have lacked any names or house numbers. But five years after the municipality submitted a list of names for every street, Israeli government officials are still dragging their feet.

They have not yet given an official reason, but there seems little doubt about the cause of the interminable delay. The names of some 40 streets – including a Yasser Arafat Street – have enraged Israel’s right wing government.

Umm al-Fahm is the second largest Palestinian community in Israel, after Nazareth.

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