Bus (illustration)
Bus (illustration) Flash 90

Attorney Baruch Elgrabli, a resident of the Samaria (Shomron) community of Revava, warned on Tuesday about the ongoing infiltration of Palestinian Authority Arabs to and from Samaria, which is done simply by boarding buses.

Arutz Sheva has reported about this in the past. In May, a resident of the community of Har Bracha said he was traveling to the city of Ramat Gan on a bus run by the Afikim company when he noticed that PA Arabs were getting on and off freely.

At no point were the PA passengers’ identity cards or bags checked, he said. Some openly carried sharp tools, while others had large closed sacks.

Elgrabli told Arutz Sheva on Tuesday that this phenomenon has not changed, noting that he encounters PA Arabs on Afikim buses every day.

Elgrabli said that as the bus makes its way from Samaria to central Israel, security guards do board the bus and inspect the passengers. On the way back, however, there is no inspection whatsoever and Arabs are allowed to travel freely.

He added that at times, half the passengers on the bus are PA Arabs returning from work in the center of the country to their villages without any inspection. It should be noted that the lack of an inspection provides Arabs with a simple escape route in the event of a terrorist attack in central Israel. Elgrabli noted that when there is concern about an attack, security checks do take place but only for private vehicles and not for buses.

Elgrabli added that a passenger recently brought up the issue with the driver one of the buses, but did not receive a satisfactory response from the driver.

He also recalled that in the past, some drivers prevented the entry of PA Arabs onto the buses, but with time this has stopped, likely due to financial considerations of the company who wishes to have as many passengers as possible on its buses.

After the previous complaint on the issue, the Afikim company told Arutz Sheva that it “is obligated to abide by the rules set by the Transportation Ministry, among them Article 434, which requires drivers to provide transport to any passenger who purchases a ticket. There cannot be discrimination.”

“There is a security issue here, and we are aware of the problem. The manager of Afikim is working with the relevant parties – the army, police, Transportation Ministry and others – to raise the problem and find some solution. Drivers are unable to handle the security problem.”

As a short-term solution, Afikim buses to and from Samaria will undergo random checks, Afikim representatives said. The company hopes a long-term solution will be found, they added.

Elgrabli rejected Afikim’s previous response that drivers are not authorized to prevent entry of PA Arabs, saying this can only apply to Arabs with an Israeli ID card and not to PA Arabs over whom there is suspicion of involvement in acts of terrorism.