Soldiers stationed near Hawara checkpoint in Samaria
Soldiers stationed near Hawara checkpoint in Samaria FLASH90

The Higher Planning Committee of the Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration, which manages most of the territory Judea and Samaria, voted Wednesday to approve plans for the paving of bypass roads in Judea and Samaria, allowing Israeli residents to avoid dangerous Palestinian Arab villages.

The committee voted to approve the plans, following instructions by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – who also serves as Defense Minister – to grant approval.

Netanyahu had promised settler leaders in 2017 that his government would build bypass roads at key locations in Judea and Samaria.

The roads approved in Wednesday morning’s vote would bypass the Arab village of Hawara [Huwara] north of Tapuah Junction in Samaria, and Al-Arroub, between Gush Etzion and Hevron in Judea.

Computer generated image of Hawara bypass road
Computer generated image of Hawara bypass road צילום: דוברות

Both Hawara and Al-Arroub straddle Route 60, the primary north-south traffic artery in Judea and Samaria.

The prime minister vowed to build bypass roads allowing Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria to circumvent the two Arab villages, following a lynch mob attack on an Israeli motorist in Hawara in May 2017.

During the attack, Palestinian Arab vehicles were used to block the road and box the Israeli driver’s car in, as hundreds of residents of Hawara attacked the Israeli vehicle and attempted to force their way inside. The driver, a resident of Itamar, near Hawara, opened fire, killing one of the rioters.

Lynch mob attacks Israeli vehicle in Hawara, May 2017
Lynch mob attacks Israeli vehicle in Hawara, May 2017 Nasser Ishtayeh, פלאש 90

Residents of the ‘Gav Ha-Har’ region of Samaria – including towns like Itamar, Yitzhar, Elon Moreh, and Har Bracha – say they have suffered years of stone-throwing and firebombing attacks in and around Hawara.

On Wednesday, Samaria Regional Council chief Yossi Dagan praised the decision to approve the paving of the bypass roads, lauding Netanyahu.

“The Prime Minister has proven his leadership, responsibility, and his integrity. Netanyahu kept his promise, and I praise him for sticking by the agreement. The Hawara and Al-Arroub bypass roads are strategic roads, which, God-willing, will change the map of the State of Israel in general and the map of Judea and Samaria in particular.”