When I first began to learn about Israel’s Occupation, I thought the aspect of the conflict most likely to get Americans involved was the existence of Jewish-only roads. After all roads are such a part of our national beliefs on democracy, opportunity, and mobility, economic and geographic. The fact that some roads are off limits to Palestinians living in the territories while the roads they are permitted are choked with checkpoints causing delays of many hours seemed a basic affront, how could this go on?
Here’s The South African Civil Society Information Service’s description of the situation:
There are 312 km of road in the West Bank that Palestinians are forbidden to use. The roads are strictly reserved for use by Israeli’s.
The most prominent apartheid road is a 15km stretch of Highway 443 from Modi’in to Jerusalem, which cuts through an area of the West Bank creating serious challenges for Palestinians wishing to travel to the city of Ramallah, their main social and economic hub.
35,000 Palestinians live alongside the road. all entrances to Palestinian villages are blocked.”
You can watch a demonstration against the road against this injustice on their website.
There is also a video on the site showing just how difficult it is to travel on the Palestinian Road. You can also watch Israel’s human rights group Btselem’s video here. Btselem tells us that .
“In 1988, Israel expropriated land from Palestinian villagers living along the road in order to widen it, claiming that the road would serve their villages as well. However in 2002, the army prohibited Palestinian traffic on the road, stating ‘security reasons’.”
After years of this blatant rebuke to Israel’s democracy, our heroes the Association for Civil Rights in Israel won a Supreme Court case against Route 443.
Attorney Limor Yehuda from ACRI said in response to the ruling: “The High Court of Justice acknowledged today the illegality of the separation system manifested by Route 443. We urge the IDF to implement the ruling as soon as possible, enabling freedom of movement for Palestinians – a right which has been severely infringed on for nearly a decade.
This is a real victory, but the challenge will be making sure that “IDF implementation” happens. Hopefully this will convince more people that Israeli security cannot be achieved without securing the freedom of Palestinians.
Unfortunately, the excellent Israeli Journalist Gideon Levy mentions a bill in the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) to annex the road to avoid admitting Palestinians, while the Israeli Transportation minister laments the traffic opening the road will cause! (which should tell you how bad traffic is for Palestinians.)
How can a country that preaches the rule of law dare outfox the High Court through “bypass” laws? And how have an insignificant minority – the settlers – sown fear and managed to extort the country for so many years?