Palestinian Joy As Israel Lifts West Bank Road Ban

For almost 10 years residents of Beit Sira have been banned from using the highway connecting their village to the rest of the occupied West Bank, their path barricaded by massive concrete blocks. Now, the highway, known as Route 443, is set to open again to Palestinian traffic after the Israeli High Court ordered the military to lift the ban by the end of May. For residents of Beit Sira and other villages along the 15 kilometres (nine miles) of the road that go through the West Bank, the motoring freedom means an easing of a decade of frustrations. What was once a 20-minute drive to the main city of Ramallah became an hours-long odyssey on bypass roads and country lanes."They built it on people's land, on farmers' land and we were barred from it," said a Beit Sira resident who identified himself only as Ibrahim, as he scrambled over the obstacles. "Closing the road has hurt many people. I hope it will remain permanently open."