How Israel’s road projects are ensuring apartheid is here to stay
The expansion of settler bypass roads in the West Bank has been central to turning Israel’s ‘temporary occupation’ into a permanent one-state reality.
By Ahmad Al-Bazz and Edo Konrad
As the world began reeling from the outbreak of COVID-19 in March, Israeli authorities were busy with a string of infrastructural projects across the occupied West Bank. They include installing a new section of the separation wall, building bypass bridges for Israeli settlers, digging tunnels, and approving Palestinian-only separation roads in various locations east and southeast of Jerusalem. In pursuing these initiatives, Israel has been working hard to achieve its future geographic and demographic vision for the West Bank, turning what was once described by many as a “temporary occupation” into a permanent reality of apartheid.
One of these projects has been the expansion of Route 60 — commonly referred to as the “Tunnels Road” — the main highway leading from Jerusalem southwards to the West Bank settlements between Bethlehem and Hebron. Located between Beit Jala and Bethlehem, the road lies between two giant concrete walls and serves vehicles with yellow Israeli license plates only.
The expansion, which began a year ago and is slated for completion in 2025, includes adding two traffic lanes and building two new tunnels next to the existing ones. The goal is to double the entrance capacity of settlers traveling to Jerusalem from the Gush Etzion area, just south of Bethlehem. In order to widen the road, the Civil Administration — the arm of Israel’s military government that governs the 2.8 million Palestinians in the occupied West Bank — confiscated around three acres of land from the Palestinian village of al-Khader and the city of Beit Jala. (more…)