checkpoint 443 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The erection of new roadblocks and watchtowers, as well as increased military patrols, are part of the IDF’s proposed security plan for Route 443 ahead of its planned opening to Palestinian traffic in the coming months.
According to details of the plan under consideration by the IDF and obtained by The Jerusalem Post, the Defense Ministry is recommending the construction of four new roadblocks near the Palestinian villages of Harbata and Beit Sira and at the entrance to the settlements of Beit Horon and Givat Ze’ev.
In December, the High Court of Justice ordered the IDF to open Route 443, which links Jerusalem to Ben-Gurion Airport and Tel Aviv, to Palestinian traffic. The road was closed in 2002 following a spate of terror attacks along it that killed six people. Until then, the road had served as many as 55,000 Palestinians living in several villages along the length of the highway, including Beit Sira, Safa, Beit Ur a-Tahta and Khirbet el-Misbah.
The court gave the IDF five months to make preparations to open a 14-kilometer section of Road 443 that is between two checkpoints – one called Maccabim, near Modi’in, and the other on the opposite side, near Jerusalem.
The road is considered “strategic” since it is one of two that link
Jerusalem with the center of the country. IDF sources recognized that
the new security measures would likely cause major traffic jams for
commuters traveling on the four-lane highway.
“This is a problem but our primary concern is to ensure the public’s
safety and to do that we need to make sure that Palestinians traveling
on the road can’t enter settlements without inspections,” one officer
The IDF is concerned that once opened, Palestinian terrorists will use
the road to launch attacks against Israeli drivers. In addition to
potential shooting attacks, the IDF is also concerned with the
possibility that improvised explosive devices (IEDs) will be planted
along the highway. In December, security forces discovered the remains
of an IED – made of a gas balloon and firecrackers – that had gone off
along the road.