Bus waits at Israeli checkpoint. Image via flickr / WHAT_4
Two new bus lines designed to serve Palestinian day workers with permits travelling from The West Bank to Israel began service today. Busses will run from the Eyal checkpoint near Palestinian Qalqiliya towards Tel Aviv. Though not prohibited from traveling on existing routes with Israelis, Palestinians are being encouraged by the Israeli government to use the new service instead. Israel’s Transportation Ministry is claiming that “the new lines are not separate lines for Palestinians but rather two designated lines meant to improve the services offered to Palestinian workers who enter Israel through Eyal Crossing.”
Official Israeli law holds that it is “forbidden” to prevent any passengers from boarding public transportation but a driver for the new route has revealed that drivers have been told to direct Palestinians towards the new line and that checkpoint officers will be asking Palestinian passengers to switch to “their own busses” at checkpoints.
The move comes after ongoing reports by human rights watch groups, inlcuding Checkpoint Watch, of Palestinians being removed from busses. Advertising for the new route has been disseminated entirely in Arabic and only in Palestinian areas of the West Bank.