Allow Palestinian Workers Safe Passage on the Bridge Next to the Maccabim Checkpoint
Photo: Roni Peli, ACRI
On October 19, 2022, ACRI petitioned the Supreme Court against the Minister of Defense and the Civil Administration, demanding access to the pedestrian bridge near the village of Beit Sira and the Maccabim checkpoint above Route 443, throughout all hours of the day.
The Maccabim Checkpoint is located on Route 443, near the Green Line. The vehicle crossing is designated for Israelis, and the pedestrian crossing is designated for Palestinians. Each day over 3,000 Palestinian laborers pass through the checkpoint into Israel and back to the West Bank. In the morning hours, the workers may pass through the checkpoint to a pedestrian bridge over the road and cross the road safely. However, the checkpoint closes at 11:30 in the morning, as does access to the bridge. As a result, upon returning from work in the afternoon, laborers are compelled to choose what risk they will take: they may either run across the busy six-lane road, or a shuttle bus will drop them off on the shoulder, in a place where stopping is prohibited and there’s no lane for merging back into traffic. As a result of the poor traffic regulations, over the past five years four Palestinians have been lethally hit by cars, and an Israeli driver was killed in a car accident near the checkpoint. In recent years, there has been an average of one car accident near the checkpoint on a monthly basis.
The petition claims that restricting access to the bridge during certain hours of the day violates Palestinian workers’ basic rights, primarily the right to life. Making the bridge accessible at all hours of the day is arguably simple, and does not involve any complex processes, risks, or significant financial expenditures. The petition emphasized that as the occupying power in the West Bank, the State of Israel has the duty to protect Palestinian residents’ lives, bodies, dignity, and orderly daily lives.