After years of complaints about stone-throwing by local Arabs, Israeli Transport, National Infrastructure and Road Safety Minister Miri Regev this week officially inaugurated the first part of the Gush Etzion-Hebron bypass road.
The Lev Yehuda-Levinger Road, named after the founders of Hebron’s modern-day Jewish community, bypasses the Arab village of Al-Arub and will eventually connect Hebron and Kiryat Arba with the Gush Etzion bloc and Jerusalem.
The majority of the route will be opened to traffic on Wednesday.
“We are inaugurating Lev Yehuda Road in the name of the late Rabbi and Mrs. Levinger, founders of the Judea and Samaria Jewish community,” stated Regional Council head Shlomo Ne’eman at a ceremony on Monday. “We see with our own eyes the bulldozers along Road 60 that will shortly transform this vital road into a wide highway, and provide the population with passage to Jerusalem.”
Ne’eman, who also serves as the head of the Yesha Council, the umbrella group of municipal assemblies in Judea and Samaria, called the project an “essential lifeline and a key factor to strengthening our way of life in the region.”
The opening was initially planned for last week, but was postponed for security reasons in light of the IDF counterterrorism operation in the Samaria city of Jenin. Over the weekend, Jewish drivers reported multiple instances of rock-throwing near Al-Arub, Beit Ummar and Karmei Tzur.
“Today we were privileged to see the successful completion of a safe, state-of-the-art road that will offer safe passage to all residents in the area, both Jews and Palestinians,” said Regev. As part of its five-year plan for infrastructure development in Judea and Samaria, the government intends to issue a tender to complete the full route as early as December, the minister added.
Regev told attendees that she expects the work on the Huwara Bypass Road to be completed by the end of the year as well.
Huwara, near Shechem (Nablus), was the scene of several Palestinian terrorist attacks in recent months, including the murder of brothers Hallel Yaniv, 21, and Yagel Yaniv, 19, who were shot by a Palestinian terrorist as they sat in traffic on Feb. 26.
The bypass road will allow Israelis traveling to and from central Samaria communities including Yitzhar, Elon Moreh, Itamar and Har Bracha to use a safer route instead of the current one through the hostile village.