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      Ministers Told: Highway 443 Off Limits

      Document sent to ministers reaches Arutz Sheva; forbids travel on the route even during the daytime.
      By Gil Ronen
      First Publish: 2/5/2014, 7:28 PM

      כביש 443
      כביש 443
      פלאש 90

      Highway 443, a central route that connects Jerusalem and Modiin, has been declared off limits to government ministers 24 hours a day, according to a directive issued by Israel's secret service.

      The document has reached Arutz Sheva. It states: "In view of an increase in [terror] events on Route 443, effective immediately, there is to be no movement on the route during all hours of the day except after receiving clearance from the operations department of the Magen Unit.”

      Magen is the VIP Security Unit of the Shin Bet, or Israel Security Agency.

      There have been several incidents lately in which Arab terrorists hurled firebombs and rocks at vehicles traveling on Highway 443. In one incident, an improvised explosive was planted and had to be neutralized by police sappers.

      In December, a vehicle that carried members of Israel's Habima national theater company came under a rock attack as it drove to Tel Aviv Tuesday evening, following a show in the Jerusalem Theater. No one was injured, but it was a very close call.

      "We were driving along quietly, returning from a show, tired, and suddenly we heard a big boom and the vehicle's windshield shattered on all of us. The rock hit the seat, just a few millimeters from Tatiana, who was covered with broken glass. We are all in a state of shock and we were very lucky that nothing more serious happened,” said a member of the group.

      Road 443 is located near the security barrier that was erected in the years following the outbreak of the Terror War of 2000 (the “Second Intifada”), to separate the Palestinian Authority from Israel's major population centers.

      The High Court for Justice, under then-president Dorit Beinisch, decided in 2009 to enable access to the route from several PA villages, despite protests from Jews who said that this would also let terrorists endanger motorists. The High Court ordered the IDF to install new security arrangements to protect Jewish drivers while allowing PA Arabs to drive on the road.

      Beinisch noted the danger involved but said that “despite the understanding for the security needs," keeping PA drivers off the road gives “rise to a feeling of inequality and even an association of unacceptable motives.” 

      The U.S. government banned its workers from traveling on Highway 443 at night in 2010, shortly after that the High Court decision. The American government also prohibits its workers from using roads in Judea and Samaria.

      The American government’s instruction was posted on its consular affairs website one day after it was reported that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s security team does not allow him to travel the road at all, whether day or night.