(JTA) – Israel’s government allotted $227 million US for improving the security of roads in the West Bank, including by building new ones that circumvent Palestinians cities.
The allocation, which is the largest of its kind, was announced Friday following weeks of protests by bereaved families of Israelis who died in terrorist attacks on West Bank roads. Construction by Israel in the West Bank, including of roads for settlements, is considered internationally as illegal.
Urgent projects will be funded from a $57 million sum set aside for these projects from the current national budget and the remaining sum will come from that of 2018, Ynet reported.
The urgent projects include building a tunnel in a section of a road near the Palestinian town of Qalandia north of Jerusalem. Another is a bypass that will no longer require drivers to approach Luvan a–Sharqiya, a town located 20 miles north of Qalandia. At a later stage, a bypass is to be built near Hawara, a village located near Luvan a–Sharqiya, and at Al-Aroub, a village 12 miles south of Jerusalem, near Efrat.
“This is a very emotional moment,” said Hadas Mizrachi, a leader of the protests for road security in the West Bank, whose husband, Baruch, was a police officer from the city of Modi’in west of Jerusalem, and who was murdered in a 2014 terrorist attack on a road near Hebron. “I am glad we were given the opportunity to make this achievement for the People of Israel and prevent tragedies like the one that befell me and my family,” the widow added in a statement.
In addition to bypasses, the funding will provide walls for protection in segments prone to shooting attacks, lighting and better cellular reception.
B’Tselem, an organization that records what it considers human rights violations against Palestinians, in January called on the government to refrain from building bypasses in the West Bank.
Last month, the Israel Security Agency recorded 71 attacks against Israelis in areas controlled by Israel – the lowest tally recorded in one month since 2015 and a 31 per cent drop over October’s 103 attacks, the agency said in its monthly report published this week.
Of the attacks recorded last month, 50 occurred in Jerusalem and another 17 in the West Bank. One victim was killed in the attacks.