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Monday, June 12, 2006

Murder on Route 443

If you live in Jerusalem and need to get to Tel Aviv, there are two realistic ways to go. There's Highway 1, the Jerusalem - Tel Aviv highway, and there's Route 443, the 'back road,' that is convenient for those who live in the northeastern part of the city.

Until December 2000, many of us assumed that Route 443 was immune from the problems that plagued other roads in Judea and Samaria. There was never a terror attack nor even a stoning. While Route 443 passed uncomfortably close to Ramallah, where two IDF soldiers were lynched in October 2000, most of us believed that Route 443 was safe.

On the first night of Chanukah, 5761 (December 2000), I was driving along Route 443 on my way to a Chanukah party, when suddenly the traffic started to snake in front of me. This is how I described it to my email list at the time (for the record, Adina is my wife, Avraham Yaakov is son number 1, child number 2 who was in 10th grade at the time, and Baruch Yosef is son number 2, child number 3 who was 12 years old at the time):
There are two roads - major highways - in Yesha that all Israelis have used for years without hesitation and without any kind of protection. One is the road from Yerushalayim down to Maaleh Adumim and continuing down to Yericho. The other is variously known as Kvish Modiin, Kvish Ben Shemen or Route 443. Until the war broke out three months ago, we used Route 443 all the time. In fact, there was a period of about a year that I drove it every day and night on the way to work in Ramat Gan. I drove it at 3:00 and 4:00 A.M. many times without any fear. The road was widened about a year or two ago, and most of it now has the feel of a major highway.

Since the war broke out, we stopped using the road. There had been some stone throwing alongside the road during the first few days, there was a firebomb thrown on it a couple of weeks ago just outside Yerushalayim. Nothing serious, but enough to convince us not to use the road. But the other road is out of the way. Particularly when going to Avraham Yaakov's yeshiva, which is in Moshav Matityahu as some of you may recall. It's 25-30 minutes to Moshav Matityahu using Kvish Modiin-Givat Zev. It's 45-60 minutes using Kvish Yerushalayim - Tel Aviv.

Adina keeps telling me that it's okay to use the road, nothing will happen there. And despite that, every time she drives to Tel Aviv (except the last time which was last Wednesday) I insisted that she not use it. When I was driving, I used the road, but I have not driven to Tel Aviv a whole lot lately. I had not used it at night since the war broke out until Tuesday, when I used it to drive back from a PTA at Avraham Yaakov's yeshiva at about 6:00 P.M. I figured it was still crowded so it was safe. And it was (seemingly); we got home without a hitch.

Tonight, Baruch Yosef and I went to a Chanuka party in Avraham Yaakov's Yeshiva. We left a bit late, and we needed to get gas in Ramot anyway, so we just continued past Ramot and out towards Givat Zev. We left the house at about 8:10, and we probably left the gas station (the one in Ramot - not the one by Givat Zev) around 8:25. There were a couple of cars pulled over to the side of the road just before the long downhill by Givon (I apologize that those of you who don't know the road are probably having a hard time keeping up. There is a web site with road maps of Israel; I think it's www.emaps.co.il), but it didn't look like anything serious.

We passed Givon and Givat Zev and the road curved to the left past the turnoff to Ramallah (which is now clearly marked - that's the road the two lynch victims had gotten lost on in October), and headed down another slight incline. At the bottom we saw a lot of cars, some of which seemed to be stopped in the middle of the road. There was someone walking in the middle of the road. There was a driving school car with the doors open in the right lane. There were about five or six cars stopped on the right side in the breakdown lane.

My car has no protection, I don't carry any kind of weapon and I am not trained - either by the army in general or in first aid in particular. It looked like a car accident, but we didn't see any car that looked damaged. We thought maybe it was a bunch of people meeting up. We drove on.

When we passed Charbata (another 10-15 minutes down the road), we saw several army jeeps heading the other way with lights flashing. Something seemed seriously wrong, but we didn't know what it was. When we got to Maarava, they announced that all the Yerushalmim should take the back way through Modiin to Route 3 to Kvish Yerushalayim - Tel Aviv (the main highway). I asked someone why and they said that there was some kind of army activity on Route 443 and the road was closed.

For those of you not in Israel, here is what happened (the first two reports are from Breaking News - Israel. Their credit will appear elsewhere in this update. The third is from the Jerusalem Post :

21-DEC-00 – 8:52pm (Note the time and note when I said I passed)

First report – shooting attack with injuries on Route 443 (BNI- DEC.21) There was a shooting attack a short time ago on Route 443, between Givat Ze’ev (north of Jerusalem), and Beit Choron. Preliminary reports indicate that shots were fired at an Israeli vehicle two kilometers (1.2 miles) west of Givat Ze’ev from a passing vehicle.

Unconfirmed reports indicate one person was seriously wounded from terrorist gunfire.

BNI will provide additional reports as confirmed information becomes available.


21-DEC-00 – 9:20pm

More on Route 443 terrorist attack (BNI-DEC.21) In the shooting attack a short time ago on Route 443 (Modi’in road), between Givat Ze’ev (north of Jerusalem), and Beit Choron, an Israeli motorist was killed by gunfire from a passing vehicle. The vehicle of the victim was riddled with bullets from the automatic gunfire. First responders report it appears that the vehicle was hit on its right side from a very close distance.

The victim managed to continue driving towards Givat Ze’ev after being mortally wounded, finally losing consciousness inside Givat Ze’ev [I don't understand this. When I saw the car, he was facing away from Givat Zev towards Beit Choron, which was the direction in which we were travelling. CiJ]. He died a short time later of his injuries.

The road on which the driver was traveling is a major thoroughfare inside “Israel proper.” [That is incorrect. It is a major thoroughfare, but it is definitely over the "green line" and not in what is referred to as "Israel proper." Nevertheless, it is a road that at least until now, most Israelis felt secure in using. CiJ]. It is believed the attackers made their escape heading west, towards the PA autonomous municipality of Ramallah. Police and IDF forces have closed down the area in the hope of apprehending the terrorists responsible.

Additional details as information becomes available.


(23:05) Israeli motorist killed by terrorists

Eli Cohen, 30, of Modi'in was shot and killed tonight by Palestinian terrorists waiting in ambush on the road between Givat Ze'ev and Beit Horon.

Cohen, a driving instructor, was on his way home when the terrorists sprayed his car with automatic rifle fire. Security forces immediately began a search for the attackers, who fled on foot toward Ramallah.

Prime Minister Ehud Barak condemned the attack and said Israel would continue to confront terrorism with all necessary force, while maintaining its efforts to reach a peace agreement that would bring an end to the violence.

[Now you all know why I feel lucky that Baruch Yosef and I are alive tonight. Hashem yerachem.... C.S.]
By the way, note Ehud Barak's reaction in the next to last paragraph. This was around the same time that the Taba talks were going on. Now you know why he lost the election a couple months later.

Tonight, an Israeli Arab was murdered on Route 443 and the IDF says that it was a terror attack. The Jerusalem Post reports that the Israeli Arab was 35 years old and that two other people were wounded in the attack.

The IDF determined that the shooting was a terror attack, as the gunmen fired from a hilltop above the road and had no apparent target. I'm pretty sure I know exactly where they shot from.

Initially, police said the cause of the late-night attack on Road 443 near the Ofer military camp was internecine clan rivalry, Jerusalem police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said. They have got to be kidding. If those shots came from where I think they came from, you'd have to have a high-powered rifle with an infrared scope to even have a clue whom you're shooting at.

The Post notes that in the past, Palestinian terrorists have mistakenly attacked Arabs traveling in cars with Israeli license plates. That's true. And a Jerusalem Arab would have an Israeli license plate. But at this point, very few Arabs are allowed on Route 443 unless they have Israeli citizenship, and at night, it would be almost impossible to tell the difference.

Time to get off 443 at night again.


At 2:58 AM, Blogger Soccer Dad said...

Didn't one of those "peace" groups successfully petition the Bagatz to move the fence closer to 443?

At 11:03 PM, Blogger Batya said...

no one is immune

no place is immune


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