For the second time in three days, residents of the northwestern Shomron Jewish community of Avnei Hefetz demonstrated on Sunday against the removal of a roadblock which prevented residents of the neighboring Arab village of Shufa from crossing the highway.
The residents last protested the removal of the blockade on Thursday, and Sunday’s demonstration was held after the community’s secretariat decided to demonstrate every day until the road is once again closed to Arabs, or alternatively a different road is opened to Jewish residents.
The residents blocked traffic on the road for about an hour without any resistance from IDF soldiers stationed nearby. A local youth representative told Arutz Sheva that residents plan to be on the road every day and hold afternoon prayers and a daily Torah lesson.
During the demonstration, the head of the Shomron Regional Council, Gershon Mesika, said, “This road has known shooting attacks in the past. If the security situation is so good, why not open the other traffic arteries to Jewish traffic?”
Mesika added, “Opening the road to Arabs makes it easier for them to ‘mistakenly’ enter Avnei Hefetz.”
Tzvi Dardik from the secretariat of Avnei Hefetz said during last week’s demonstration, “The IDF decided to remove the barrier despite having promised not to do so until the road is adjusted to accommodate the large masses of residents of Shechem who will travel through it. We once again warn that if no changes are made, including widening the road and adding lighting - the road will become a death trap. The road is not built to accommodate the great mass of Arabs who will pass through if the barrier comes down.
The opening of the road near Avnei Hefetz comes after another road between Beit Furik and Elon Moreh was opened to Arabs for the first time in 12 years last week.
The road, which is known as the Madison Route, connects to the Samaria Brigade base, passes through the entrance to Itamar and ends at the community of Elon Moreh.
The road was closed to vehicles with the onset of the Second Intifada, also known as the Oslo War, in 2000. Since then, the IDF has prohibited Arab residents of the area to drive through the road, after terrorists carried out a number of shooting attacks directed against Israeli vehicles.
On Wednesday, residents of Elon Moreh protested against the opening of Madison Route and prevented Arabs from passing through.
Elon Moreh resident Davidi Ben-Zion told Arutz Sheva on Sunday that “the road was opened to Arab traffic following the demand of extreme left-wing activists and Palestinians. The IDF surrendered easily.”
He added, “This is a very difficult period in terms of security. Only recently there have been several attempts to infiltrate the community.”
The IDF said in response that “traffic on the roads is determined by assessing the situation and by security concerns. The IDF is operating to ensure a proper fabric of life for all residents of the area while taking the required security measures.”