The High Court's decision to open Route 443, connecting Modiin with Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, to Palestinian travel remains controversial, as members of bereaved families warn of future tragedies.
The military ordered the route closed to Palestinian travel in 2000, following the Second Intifada. Three years ago, the council of Beit Sira village and other petitioners appealed the order with the High Court, with the help of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI).
A three-judge panel granted the petition Tuesday, by a majority of two of three. The ruling will take effect in three months' time.
The decision has enraged families of terror victims who were killed in terror attacks which took place on Route 443 prior to its closing.
"I can't bear the thought of another mother experiencing this kind of pain," Freda Sawari, whose son, brother and sister-in-law were killed in a 2001 terror attack near Beit Horon, told Ynet. "I will never trust the Palestinians who live in the nearby villages. I know not all of them are evil, but even they don’t know who's living among them. The facts are very simple – once they fenced off the road they couldn’t kill Jews. Once they get the opportunity, they'll do it again."
Checkpoint on Route 443 (Archive photo: Amit Shabi)
Modiin Mayor Haim Bibas was furious as well: "This decision is completely detached from reality. Once the road is no longer secure trouble will find its way back to us. If a terror attack happens the army will take the blame. Why? Why even go there?"
The judges, he added, have no idea what the situation is on the ground: "Those people sit there, in their ivory tower, and make decisions that are detrimental to our lives… we're not going to take this lying down. We're going to do what we can to ensure the residents safety."
Attorney Limor Yehuda, who represented the petitioners, welcomed the court's ruling, saying it corrected "an impossible, illegal and unjust situation."
Nirit Moskovitch, from the ACRI said the ruling "had nothing to do with the comfort of Palestinians versus Jewish lives. This road is not in Israel to begin with – the West Bank is considered by every institution as occupied territory which is not under Israeli jurisdiction and Israelis can't take their access to it for granted.
"There are less intrusive ways of ensuring everyone's safety," she added, saying that while she feels for the families of terror victims, "It is inconceivable that tens of thousands of people, for whom this is practically the only way of transportation, won't be able to use it."
Naama Lanir, Eli Senyor and Roee Nahmias contributed to this report