Mayor of Elad Yisrael Porush
Mayor of Elad Yisrael PorushYoni Kempinski

On Wednesday, mayor of Elad Yisrael Porush notified the Transport Ministry that thousands of yeshiva students who had been learning in Elad are now stranded in the city and unable to return home, due to the cancellation of dozens of bus routes connecting Elad to other cities.

By order of the Health Ministry, all yeshivas were closed on Wednesday, but the Transport Ministry’s cancellation of all bus lines from Elad to Jerusalem and Bnei Brak meant that many of the city’s yeshiva students now have no way to get home. Most of those learning in yeshivas in Elad do not live in the city, and relatively few of the city’s ultra-Orthodox residents own private vehicles.

“It makes no sense that on the very same day that the Ministry of Health announces the closure of the yeshivas, the government also makes it impossible for the students to return to their homes,” Porush said, speaking on Radio Kol Chai.

Justifying its decision to cancel dozens of bus routes, the Transport Ministry asserted that according to its own research, the number of passengers using public transport in and out of Elad had not decreased, despite the government’s order to limit travel to essential journeys only. Therefore, the official claimed, it was necessary to forcibly impose restrictions in order to reduce the number of people traveling.

However, the Elad Municipality disputed this claim, stating that according to information received from a large number of travelers, most buses were already operating at half capacity or less.

“Maybe the Transport Ministry conducted its investigations on a day when many of the city’s yeshiva students were using the buses [thereby distorting the figures]. Our residents have not been lax in obeying the guidelines regarding avoiding unnecessary travel,” the mayor said. He added that if a response from the Transport Ministry was not forthcoming, he would be forced to take action.

“I hope they will find a solution soon. Transportation shut down at eight o’clock last night, and there are around 5,000 yeshiva students now stuck in Elad, unable to get home. If something isn’t done about this soon, then I will reopen the yeshivas,” Porush warned.