Afikim bus
Afikim busHillel Meir

Demonstraters in Samaria (Shomron) against the ongoing public transportation crisis in the region have turned their wrath to Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz and Deputy Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud).

The Defense Ministry is responsble for security arrangements in Judea and Samaria, prompting ministers to lay the blame at the feet of Minister of Defense Moshe Ya'alon. But the demonstrators rejected such attempts to deflect criticism, saying that the government departments responsible for public transportation needed to take responsbility for basic problems like overcrowding and harassment aboard busses.

"Placing the blame on the Defense Ministry [for the crisis] is irresponsible," one activist stated. "Hotovely and Katz are disconnected from the Jewish residents in Judea and Samaria."

Busses in the region have become so crowded with Palesinian Arab workers, who were legally permitted to enter Israel's borders in the past year, that many Jewish residents in the region face great difficulties getting home from work.

In addition, several women have reported being harassed by the workers. A Knesset hearing discussed the problem earlier this month, but new resolutions will not be addressed for several months. At that meeting, both Katz and Hotovely claimed that the problem was in the hands of the Ministry of Defense - despite that their own office holds the key to the solution, which many claim is simply adding more busses. 

Activists have declared that the placement of bus ads denouncing the two MKs is only the first step in their smear campaign.

"We will act within every power of the law available to us to reveal to the public the crimes of MKs Katz and Hotovely - and no one else," one demonstrater stated. The group has vowed not to let the issue rest until the problem is solved. 

"The Ministry of Transportation is responsible for regulating public transport, throughout all of the State of Israel," another demonstrator continued. "Could it be that Katz and Hotolevy are unaware that Ariel is part of Israel?"

Ariel is the region's largest city, with many bus lines; yet even residents there report that it can take hours to get home, due to overcrowding on the city's busses to urban centers like Tel Aviv, Petah Tikva, and Rosh HaAyin. 

The outrage also follows the horrific stabbing of IDF soldier Eden Atias, 19, earlier this month. Atias was stabbed by an illegal PA Arab, who had used the bus system to pass into Israel without permits from the Shomron settlement of Jenin.