NIS 60m on Road 443 security, for 5 Palestinian cars a day

The checkpoints were built earlier this year after the High Court of Justice ordered the IDF to reopen the road to Palestinian traffic.

October 22, 2010 01:00
2 minute read.
Soldiers open highway 443

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.

The 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.

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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.

Until 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 Khirbat al-Misbah.

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 highway.

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 northern Jerusalem.

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.

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