Route 443 to be opened for Palestinians

IDF plans to open the highway despite fears of renewed terror.

Soldiers open highway 443 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post)
Soldiers open highway 443 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post)
The IDF will open Route 443 to Palestinians this week as it puts the finishing touches on a new set of security measures along the key highway.
Under orders from the High Court of Justice, the road, which links Jerusalem with Modi’in and Tel Aviv, will officially open to Palestinian traffic on Friday, after almost eight years of being used solely by Israeli drivers.
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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.
In December, the court gave the IDF five months to make preparations to open a 14-km. section of Route 443 that runs between two IDF checkpoints – one called Maccabim, near Modi’in, and the other near Jerusalem.
The road is considered “strategic” since it is one of two that link Jerusalem with the Central region.
In recent weeks, the army has erected a barbed-wire fence along the road and surrounding the Givat Ze’ev settlement. It has also built a new checkpoint at the entrance to the road that leads to Beit Ghur a-Fawka, where Palestinian cars will be checked before being allowed onto the highway. Another checkpoint is being set up at the entrance to the side road that leads to Beit Sirya.
A third checkpoint, to eventually have six lanes, is under construction near the Ofer Prison and will be used to control Palestinian traffic coming from Ramallah onto the highway and then into Jerusalem.
The work on the road is expected to cost more than NIS 30 million.
IDF's concerned terrorist attacks will renew
The IDF Central Command is concerned that terrorists in cars will renew attacks along the road. On Wednesday night, Palestinians stoned a number of Israeli vehicles on Route 443 near Beit Ghur a-Fawka. The IDF arrested two suspects, who were transferred to the custody of the Judea and Samaria Police.
Specifically, the IDF is worried about renewed shooting attacks and bombs being planted along the highway. In December, security forces discovered the remains of an improvised explosive device – made of a gas canister and firecrackers – that had gone off along the road and appeared to have targeted passing Israeli cars.
IDF sources expect that in the first few days, hundreds of Palestinian cars will take to the roads, some of them waving Palestinian flags as an act of protest. With time, though, the number of Palestinian cars is expected to decrease.