Soldiers open highway 443 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post)
Anyone who drives regularly on Road 443, between Modi’in and Jerusalem, is
familiar with the checkpoints the IDF recently erected, which line the road at
the entrance to a number of adjacent Palestinian villages.
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checkpoints were built earlier this year after the High Court of Justice ordered
the IDF to reopen the road to Palestinian traffic, after almost eight years of
it being used solely by Israeli drivers.
The Defense Ministry allocated
NIS 60 million to establish the necessary security infrastructure along the road
so Palestinian drivers could drive on it alongside Israelis. But almost six
months after it was opened, The Jerusalem Post
has learned that on average
approximately five Palestinian cars drive on Road 443 each day, far less even
than initial low predictions of a few dozen.
The road was closed in 2002
following a spate of terrorist attacks that killed six people.
then, it had served some 55,000 Palestinians living in several villages along
its length, including Beit Sirya, Beit Ghur a-Fawka, Beit Ghur a-Tahta and
The road is considered “strategic” because it is one
of two that link Jerusalem with the Central region.
To facilitate the
opening of the highway, the IDF Central Command erected a barbed-wire fence along
its length and surrounding the Givat Ze’ev neighborhood. It also built a new
checkpoint at the entrance to the road that leads to Beit Ghur a-Fawka, where
Palestinian cars are checked before being allowed onto the
Another checkpoint was set up at the entrance to the side road
that leads to Beit Sirya.
A third checkpoint, with six lanes, was built
near the Ofer Prison and is used to control traffic coming from Road 443 into
Palestinians still do not use the highway since it
does not really help them. “If a Palestinian wants to get to Ramallah he cannot
get there via Road 443,” the officer said, referring to the junction near the
Ofer Prison where the Palestinians are stopped and forced to turn around since
that area is already considered part of Jerusalem.
In addition, if
Palestinians who live in the villages along the highway want to travel to
neighboring towns, they usually prefer not to use the road, because they must
stop getting both on and off at the newly erected checkpoints. Most just find it
easier to continue using the back roads that already connect the villages.