Following the outbreak of the second intifada in October 2000, highway 443 earned the unfortunate distinction of being a popular target for Palestinian terrorists. In the course of two years, numerous Israeli cars were stoned, others were hit by Molotov cocktails, and dozens of civilians were wounded.
But by far the most significant incidents were a series of shooting attacks that resulted in six deaths. After the sixth attack, the IDF – which had already imposed strict restrictions on Palestinian traffic given the fragile security situation – decided to ban their access completely. What follows is a brief review of the attacks that led to that decision:
• December 21, 2000 – Eliyah Cohen, 30, a driving instructor who had moved from Jerusalem to Modi’in just two weeks earlier, was passing Beit Horon on 443 when Palestinian gunmen waiting in ambush sprayed his car with gunfire. The vehicle was riddled with 15 bullets, one of which went through his chest and killed him instantly.
• January 15, 2001 – Terrorists approached the vehicle of Yoela Chen, 47, who had stopped at a gas station in Givat Ze’ev. They spoke with her first, to confirm that she was Israeli, and then shot her and the passenger in her car. Chen was killed, and the passenger, Rochelle Eini, was wounded. The assailants used the open 443 access to flee to Ramallah.
• July 26, 2001 – Ronen Landau, 17, was shot in the liver as his father drove him from downtown Jerusalem to their home in Givat Ze’ev.
• August 25, 2001 – Sharon and Yaniv Ben-Shalom and Doron Sueri, Sharon’s brother, were shot and killed when the vehicle they were traveling in on 443 was hit with a hail of bullets. The Ben-Shaloms’ 20-month and eight-month-old daughters were wounded in the attack.
Although there haven’t been any fatalities resulting from terrorism on
the road since the closure, the attacks haven’t abated entirely. The
incidents have continued well into 2010, the most recent being a Molotov
cocktail thrown on March 13. At the time, a father and his toddler son
were lightly wounded when the incendiary object hit their car.
Two weeks earlier, Palestinian gunmen fired at an IDF outpost adjacent
to the road but failed to cause any casualties. And on December 17,
2009, just 11 days before the High Court decision to lift the ban on
Palestinian traffic, an improvised bomb was discovered on the side of
highway. It, too, failed to inflict any harm, as it malfunctioned and
exploded improperly. – M.Z.