The IDF's Central Command estimates that approximately 3,000 Palestinian Authority Arabs will drive along the Jerusalem-Modiin highway Route 443 each day when the road is opened to PA traffic this May. The estimate is much higher than earlier IDF estimates, which predicted that only a few hundred PA Arabs would use the road.
The higher estimate was made after the IDF Civil Administration presented more accurate data than was previously available.
The IDF is preparing to deal with the security ramifications of allowing PA Arabs to use the highway, as mandated by a recent Supreme Court ruling. The court ruled this past December that PA Arabs must be allowed to use the highway despite terrorism fears, and despite the fact that a parallel road was built alongside much of the highway exclusively for PA Arab travel.
The ruling aroused opposition among Israelis who regularly use the highway, including many Jerusalem residents who use the road to get to their jobs in the Tel Aviv area.
Terrorism on the Highway
Highway 443 is set to open to PA traffic in May despite ongoing terrorist attacks on Israeli motorists along the road. In the most recent such attack, terrorists opened fire on soldiers along the route near the Jewish town of Beit Horon. No one was hurt in the incident.
In January, Arab attackers attempted to run an Israeli car off the road, and when they failed, began stoning the driver. The attackers were unaware that their chosen target was a Border Guard officer, who scared the attackers off by firing in the air.
When Highway 443 first opened, it was open to all motorists. The road was closed to PA residents in 2000 following a series of terrorist shootings along the highway in which several Israeli motorists were murdered.