traffic jam
traffic jamIsrael news photo: Flash 90

An American aid organization has apparently convinced the Transport Ministry to adjust road construction plans near Hevron – leaving Israeli drivers open to attacks by Arab youths living in area villages, say residents of the Jewish towns in the area.

Instead of a planned interchange on Road 60 near Hevron, the Transport Ministry has decided to build a traffic circle. The interchange was to have allowed for two-lane traffic on that portion of Road 60, near Jewish towns in the area, including Kiryat Arba. The current intersection requires “negotiating” and a great deal of waiting for cars that are approaching on Road 60, and the roads intersecting the highway, to allow drivers to make turns onto the access roads for towns and villages.

In order to ensure the smooth flow of traffic, the Transport Ministry decided to build an interchange, but according to area residents, the intervention of a leftist American group – USAID – has caused the interchange to be “demoted” to a traffic circle.

While both plans will increase traffic safety, residents said, the use of a traffic circle will increase security risks for Israeli drivers. Residents said that the current intersection was a favorite spot for Arab youths from area villages to gather and throw stones at Israeli drivers. With the traffic circle, drivers will have to slow down significantly in order to give right of way to other drivers – making them even more of a target than they are now.

Malachi Levinger, the head of the Kiryat Arba-Hevron local authority, said that the project was being paid for by USAID, which has its own anti-Israel agenda, seeking to make life easier for the Arabs, but harder for Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria. He added that he had sought for weeks to postpone the project and get the government to reconsider the traffic circle, but to no avail. But, he added, he has not given up hope that the government will realize its error.

When queried by Arutz Sheva, the Transportation Ministry said that the decision was the responsibility of the IDF, which said that it had “considered the decision from a professional and security point of view, and approved it.”