Residents of Ariel and those who travel frequently to the city were unpleasantly surprised in recent days by a sign at the entrance to the city warning that by the end of this week the eastern gate to the city will no longer be open to traffic.
Many complaints reached Arutz Sheva regarding the decision. The city of Ariel is home to Ariel University as well as an industrial zone, and many residents of the region travel to the city regularly.
Sources in the city told Arutz Sheva that the decision was motivated by budget constraints. The IDF refused to increase the city’s security budget despite an increase in salary for guards, they explained, leaving the city no choice but to close an entrance to cut costs.
MK Danny Danon (Likud) stepped up Tuesday to protest the decision. Danon wrote to acting Defense Minister Ehud Barak seeking to overturn the decision. The closure could put residents in real danger, he warned.
“I’m calling on you to act responsibly and solve the problem,” he wrote. “The closure of the gate will worsen residents’ quality of life and will lead to increased traffic at the Tapuach Junction.” The Tapuach Junction is currently “sensitive and vulnerable” due to an escalation in terrorist attacks in the region, he noted.
A resident of the area told Arutz Sheva, “This is the entrance near the university, and the entrance used by everyone who lives east of Ariel, all the way to Jerusalem, and who learns in Ariel. Now they’ll have to go around through Tapuach to the main entrance of Ariel. That way is also used by all the residents of the region who work in central Israel.”
The gate closure will therefore impact not only those who learn in Ariel, but everyone in Samaria (Shomron) who works in the Tel Aviv region and travels via the Tapuach Junction, he warned. “It will also affect the buses that go that way,” he added, “and will cut off the Nofei Nechemia neighborhood completely.”
The IDF released a statement saying, “As a result of an increase in the cost of using civilian security guards, and due to the need not to exceed the budget transferred by the IDF, the security company decided to cut civilian security positions in towns in Judea and Samaria. As part of those cuts, some civilian security positions were cut in Ariel, as well.”
Arutz Sheva staff attempted to determine whether it would not cost the IDF more in the long run to close the gate and provide increased security west of Ariel rather than increase funding to keep the eastern gate open. There was no clear answer from the army.