The roads of central Israel include the infamous R60, which has turned into a constant killing ground by PA terrorists. It passes numerous Arab villages, some more peaceful than others, but many of them harboring dangerous terrorists.
Route 60 runs from north to south Israel servicing many Jewish communities with thousands of residents dependent on traveling this road. Several decades ago, the route went through the large Arab town of Ramallah. Some may recall the horrific spectacle of a terrorist rubbing his blood stained hands on a window, near the center of Ramallah. An unruly mob celebrated as three Israelis, including a Druze, were being escorted by a PA police contingent. But not to safety. These lost travelers were lynched while the blood thirsty crowds cheered on. It was a chilling event that shocked even the most dire liberal minded individuals who constantly sang the praises of the PA and demonized Jews living in that part of Israel, disputed as it is. A bypass on R60 was eventually built to avoid Jews traveling through Ramallah.
Constant Shooting Attacks
Israel has been rocked by a string of constant, recent shooting attacks, which has led many innocent Jews dead. Finding solutions to these murderous events is not something that has been found through any peaceful diplomatic formula. The same mantra of ridding Jews from the land is heard no matter which side of the invisible green line that separates what some describe as the occupied territories to what others call ‘Israel proper’ – the green might be invisible but the redness of the blood spilt is not!
The Harewa Bypass Solution
Probably the most infamous of other Arab towns in recent times is Harewa. Thousands of Jews must travel through this town weekly to get to their homes. A few years back, the most concerning issue was the lack of safe driving practice by the towns’ local residents. If one was driving north bound, (in Israel one drives on the right) with the pavement on the right side, obstacles would not always occur from the center lane on the left. Cars pull out without any prior signaling from the right, even from the pavement, from the center lane, from the left, as well as those doing a sudden U turn. Foot passengers can be even more reckless.
This is not to say that Arabs have the monopoly on dangerous driving habits, the road curse has gripped many Jewish drivers too. But if this was the problem alone, the overwhelmed Israeli traffic police officers could handle it without external assistance. Even though these same officers are also armed with M4 rifles, that can be insufficient when faced with the even graver danger of intentional armed attacks. And this has been the unfortunate fate of many Jews traveling through Harewa in recent months, to have been mercilessly slaughtered by terrorists suddenly appearing from the sidewalks of this town.
Accordingly, appeals for a bypass around Harewa has gathered momentum after being left on the political sidelines for quite a few years. The same solution to build bypasses around other Arab hotspots is now also currently in the news. But is this such an obvious and simple solution?
Drivers Shooting Past
Yes, this is not a pun but an accurate description of what many Jewish drivers have to face, regardless of whether or not they are passing a known dangerous Arab town. There has been an upward trend not only in terrorist attacks alone per se, but those involving armed weapons. Drivers have been shot to death by terrorists passing them in cars. While, this is nothing new, once again the increase in its frequency is a disturbing trend. The local Israeli police has included many volunteers dedicated to patrolling these dangerous roads with a dual mission. While they have to focus on stopping dangerous drivers caught speeding, using cell phones while driving, overtaking over double lines, etc., their very presence also serves as a deterrent against terrorist attacks on the same roads. This is especially true of Route 60. Accordingly, these officers are also trained in counter terrorism. They are professionally polite to those stopped, whether Jew or Arab, and easily become targets of terrorists themselves.
Drive past shooting attacks or car ramming incidents that have also resulted in many deaths and severe injuries has struck innocent Jewish drivers, as well as police officers alike. Is there no solution here also?
All Quiet On Route 60
Previous Israeli governments reacted to attacks from Arab drivers on these roads by a simple and effective method. Immediately following major attacks, Arab drivers were banned from driving on these targeted roads. Quiet ensued for several days. Meanwhile, elderly Arab drivers, emergency vehicles, and official Arab taxis were still given permission to drive, thereby avoiding humanitarian problems. This strategy worked for a while. Invariably external pressure un Israel for finding compromise for the ‘beleaguered’ local Arabs led to the roads being fully open again to all Arab drivers.
Little known is that these same Arab drivers have their own road system, which is never used by Jewish drivers. So they get the best of both worlds, while many Jews only get the world to come following tragic shooting attacks.
The Bypass Solution Revisited
With the above facts in mind, let’s now return to the earlier argument about building bypass roads around dangerous terrorist – infected Arab towns?
While it does make sense to avoid close contact with residents harboring armed terrorists in their midst, building a bypass around them does present an obvious solution. But as we now know, these shooting attacks are not only limited to passing Arab towns. They often occur on the actual roads, regardless of the surroundings. This brings us to a fundamental flaw in the bypass solution.
If one is preventing shooting attacks from local Arab residents by spending many tax dollars on bypassing these hot spots, all well and good. But surely, to then allow these same terrorists to share these bypass roads with Jewish drivers where they can murder at will, is clearly something else?
As mentioned, the temporary closing of roads to younger Arab drivers has been an effective solution. Additionally, Arabs do have their own road system. Maybe, a better solution is to develop their own road infrastructure, while allowing Jews safe passage on their own highways? This is a two state solution that Israel’s overseas ‘guardians’ could make work far more effectively than anything else at present.