Ministry: No Bike Trips in Gush Etzion

Bikers are not welcome in Judea and Samaria, as far as the Education Ministry is concerned. The Ministry blames the IDF's security demands

David Lev ,

Israel news photo: Yoni Kempinski

Bikers are not welcome in Judea and Samaria, as far as the Education Ministry is concerned. Leaders of the Ariel youth movement filed a request for a permit to conduct a bike tour in Gush Etzion, but were told categorically by Education Ministry officials that “bike tours in Judea and Samaria are not permitted.”

The Ariel officials had requested the permit in order to enable its youth counselors to prepare for an upcoming hike in the area by organization members, set for the intermediate days of Sukkot. On bicyle, the counselors could quickly check out the paths and set up water and other items for use during the hike.

But speaking to Arutz Sheva, Dvir Amior, a director of Ariel, said that the Ministry would not allow the event to take place as an Ariel function. Such permission is necessary in order to use organization funds for the event, and for insurance purposes.

Gush Etzion, it should be noted, is one of the “settlement bloc” areas of Judea and Samaria that all Israeli governments have declared would remain under Israeli sovereignty, regardless of PA demands or any final status agreements that are negotiated.

“It's sad that after so many years, Gush Etzion is still considered an 'off-limits' area to some extent," said Amior, but he insisted that “We will continue to hike and bike throughout the Land of Israel and to enhance our presence in it."

The Education Ministry said in response that the decision had been taken a long time ago, for security purposes.

“We work according to the IDF's instructions,” a Ministry official said. “The IDF has high security demands for these kinds of activities, and the Ministry cannot easily afford to comply with them.”