Two roads from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem
Basically two roads lead from he coastal plains up to Jerusalem, about 70 km. Highway number 1, is some times not a fast way. Currently this road is broadened with a third lane, which will improve the traffic situation by end 2016. At the same time the express train from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem will be finished, reducing the travel time from 90 minutes to about 30 minutes.
Today even a slight snow fall brings the traffic to a collapse, as well as the truck and bus drivers who are underestimating this road.
During the war of independence in 1948 this road was the only connection between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and the partly besieged villages in between and had to guarantee the supply. Halfway the road is narrowing on the pass, which was under Arab control. Between November 1947 and January 1948 1.974 people died. Arabs managed very quickly to block the road. In the legendary operation Nachshon between April 2nd and 9th fighters of Palmach and Hagana succeeded achieving recapturing areas. The Arab inhabitants fled from their villages or declared solidarity with Israel.
While the British army moved out from their strategic strongholds and fortified police stations they informed their Arab friends well in time, so they could take over and had a great military advantage. Already then, the British had a negative relationship with Jews and were helping their Arab friends only.
Between May 15th and 30th 1948 Israel tried in vain two times to take over the old police station in Latrun. Mine fields cost the life of more then 100 Israelis. Three further trials until July 18th 1948 were also without success. At the end of the war of independence Jordan occupied the police station in Latrun.
Israeli soldiers had no other choice as to protect their trucks with steel panels. As within four months 1.200 Israelis died, a relief road was built in eight weeks along old Bedouin paths and antique mule tracks, now known in history as the famous „Burma-Road“. Remarkable is, that the inhabitants of the small Arab city Abu Gosh (where the best Hummus in Israel is served!) officially took part on Israel’s side and until today remained loyal Israeli citizens. The inhabitants of Abu Gosh were helping over months until the recapture of Jerusalem in 1967 to supply goods to Jerusalem. Within 30 days a water pipe was built along the Burma Road to secure water supply to the city.
The armistice agreement of 1948 has foreseen a direct road from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem for the transport of goods and persons. Jordan ignored this agreement and the Burma Road remained until 1967 as the only alternative. In the Six Days War the IDF succeeded to recapture the police station of Latrun.
Along the Road number 1 some fortified „Sandwich Trucks“ are exhibited as memory of the siege of Jerusalem.
Shortly before our troops were about to enter and recapture Jerusalem successfully armistice was declared by Britain and thus Jerusalem remained a divided city until the Six Days War in 1967. Jordan occupied East-Jerusalem unlawfully.
The second road to Jerusalem turns just before the fork of Road Number 6 to Jerusalem direction south-eastwards to Beer Sheva and passes the region which is known as „occupied territories, West-Jordan-Land (WJL), discussed areas or, since more than 2000 years, Yudah and Shomron“.
According to the Oslo I/1993 agreements the total area is divided into three zones:
Zone A, for Jewish Israelis entry of Zone A is strictly prohibited. This area is completely in the responsibility of the PA.
Zone B, administration by PA under control of the IDF.
Zone C, 100% under control of the IDF. Palestinian Arabs with an Israeli ID are driving cars with an Israeli number plate and may move in Israel without restrictions. They may work, study or shop in Israel.
Road number 443 leads through Zone C. Shortly after Modi’in is a checkpoint. Principally only vehicles are controlled entering Israel from Zone C. Vehicles entering Zone C from Israel may do so without control. This is standard procedure with all checkpoints. From Israel entrance into the areas of Yehuda and Shomron is possible anytime. From Zone C into Israel a short control is required.
Since 2002 the road connecting seven Palestinian villages along its route with each other and with the city of Ramallah, was closed for Palestinians. after several attacks, in which six Israelis were killed.
In December 2009 the court ruled in favour of the challenge brought by B’tselem and other Human rights organisations.
More than 1,000 Israeli families have petitioned against the move, but Road 443 was kept open. Security fences have been build up by IDF to protect the drivers.
„Even if it harms Palestinian lives by forcing them to spend more time on small roads, the rights of people using the 443 are superior. The right to life is higher than the right to get somewhere five minutes earlier.“says Nitsana Durshan-Leitner of Shurat HaDin, a law centre that represents them.
Every single hill around Jerusalem recaptured from Jordan in the 1967 war has been equipped immediately with a settlement for security reasons.
Today Jerusalem is surrounded with a security belt of ten settlements on three sides. These are modern settlements making sure that Palestinian Arabs are not building to near to Jerusalem.
Here, in the Jordan valley along the border on Israel’s most narrow area, 15 km, the security is vulnerable. When visiting all the vulnerable places it is quickly clear how big the danger is if Israel gives up all areas.
Whatever the plans are for an exchange of land, the settlements around Jerusalem will remain for security reasons. The total area of all these settlements are less than one percent of the future Palestine and have never been used before for agriculture or for living.
© esther scheiner, israel