Despite accusations of Israel carrying out policies of “ethnic cleansing” or
“apartheid” against the Arabs living throughout Judea and Samaria, simply
traveling the roads of areas B or C, where Jewish and Arab motorists are in fact
sharing the same pavement, disproves this accusation.
Ironically it is
the Jews with Israeli identity cards who are forbidden under Israeli law from
traveling or even setting foot in area A, which fall under complete Palestinian
security and municipal control. Sometimes this discrimination can make traveling
a complete hassle for Jewish commuters.
A perfect example is the
Arab-only highway known as the “Quality of Life” road, which runs east/west,
located just north of the Jewish community of Beit Horon and connecting Route
443 to Ramallah.
Arabs living in villages along the route can get to
Ramallah in a matter of minutes, but Jews who are trying to get to communities
in the western Binyamin region are forced into a complete loop heading west up
443, then north, and finally east, taking close to an hour to get to places like
Talmon, Dolev and other towns.
Despite the delays on the roads and the
overall restrictions on Jews entering area A, I have no doubt that most Israelis
refrain from trying to visit Ramallah, Jenin and Tulkarem, etc., not because of
the law, but because of fears that exploration of these areas might become a
The images of the bloody hands proudly held up for the
cameras outside a Ramallah window by a young Palestinian – one of the members of
the lynch mob who brutally murdered two Israeli reservists who made a wrong turn
and entered the city during the second intifada, only to be captured and beaten
to death with their bodies thrown out the window and dragged through the streets
– no doubt still resonates with those of us whose long-term (or perhaps one
could argue short-term) memories remain intact.
It is those images and
the thousands of others from that war of terror that send shivers down my spine
when I see official Palestinian Authority police vehicles traveling freely
alongside me on the roads in areas B and C. I often find myself wondering about
those officers in the car next to me. The PA security force is made up of
approx. 4,000 armed men spread throughout eight battalions, supposedly tasked
with “keeping the peace” and “fighting the terrorists” from groups like Hamas –
who received their training from US military officials in Jordan and were
granted approval by Israel to openly carry semi-automatic Kalashnikov
What if, as was the case in 2000, the Palestinian leadership
orders its security officers – more like soldiers – to turn their guns on
Israeli motorists, both civilians and soldiers? It certainly isn’t comforting to
remember that one of the first Israelis murdered in that pre-mediated war of
terror upon the collapse of Camp David on September 29, 2000, was Border Police
Supt. Yosef Tabeja, 27, of Ramle, who was shot to death by his Palestinian
counterpart on a joint patrol near Kalkilya.
Seeing decals of the
official Fatah emblem (which includes a rifle, bayonet and hand grenade and a
map of the entire country labeled “Palestine”) on green-license-plated
Palestinian 12-seater taxis is also less than reassuring.
But perhaps I’m
just being paranoid. A superficial glance at this week’s headlines emanating
from the PA might lead one to believe that a third intifada is a figment of my
imagination. As reported in this newspaper by senior IDF correspondent Yaakov
Katz on July 2, the PA recently carried out a “crackdown on crime and corruption
in the West Bank,” by arresting 150 suspects and confiscating 100 weapons.
According to the article, Israel views this “as a milestone for the PA as it
imposes its rule and authority throughout the territory.”
One might have
a sense of optimism from this apparently positive development. But a closer look
reveals just the opposite. Katz explains: “Many of those arrested are former
members of Fatah’s Al-Aksa Martyrs’ Brigades as well as a number of rogue
officers from the Palestinian National Security Forces, the PA’s main
counter-terrorism arm trained by the US in Jordan.”
So, despite the
relative quiet we have been experiencing in Judea and Samaria – don’t get me
wrong, attacks still take place on a daily basis, but not at the levels and
severity experienced during the first half of the last decade – as long as the
men in the car next to me traveling in an official “PA police vehicle,” there is
room for angst.
The writer is a media expert, freelance journalist, and
host of Reality Bytes Radio.