Highway 443
Highway 443 in the Atarot area. Photo by Nir Kafri
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A new IDF decree bans Israelis from entering Palestinian villages along Route 443, despite these villages being located in Area C, which is under complete Israeli control.

The ban was announced yesterday by GOC Central Command Avi Mizrahi. It joins other measures taken by the Central Command as the West Bank road is prepared to be opened to Palestinian traffic, in accordance with a Supreme Court verdict rendered earlier this year.

The Israel Defense Forces has decided to implement the narrowest conceivable interpretation of the verdict. For example, it is setting up much more meticulous checks along entries to the highway than those imposed on vehicles leaving Ramallah to travel on Route 60, the cross-West Bank highway used by Palestinians, settlers and Israelis.

The new decree bans Israelis from the villages and from side roads next to the highway - a contrast to the relatively open access to other Area C villages. A Haaretz check found that the ban is already being implemented, with soldiers at the checkpoints not allowing Israelis to pass through.

The IDF Spokesman's Office released the following statement: "Following the Supreme Court ruling, the defense establishment has worked to prepare opening Route 443 to Palestinian traffic. As part of these preparations, aimed at implementing the court ruling and answering the security risked entailed in opening the road, a number of entry and exit points were set up for the Palestinian residents. Given the security risk, it was decided to ban Israeli citizens from using them."