Opening of the Huwara Bypass Road – Enhancing Settlements in the Southern Nablus Region

The first section of the Huwara Bypass Road opened for vehicular traffic on Sunday, November 12, 2023. This road aims to facilitate travel from the Tapuach/Za’tara junction to four settlements located around the city of Nablus: Itamar, Yitzhar, Alon Moreh, and Har Bracha. The segment open to traffic begins at the Beitot junction (near the village of Beita) and extends to the Burin/Yitzhar junction in the north. For the construction of the road, the Civil Administration expropriated 406 dunams of private Palestinian land from neighboring villages.

Together with the opening of the bypass road, the Central Command Chief ordered the reopening of a part of Highway 60 passing through Huwara, which had been closed to Palestinian traffic since the war started, for Palestinian movement. However, settlers opposed the reopening, leading to the decision to keep the road closed, resulting in two separate roads serving only the settler from that area.

The first part of the Huwara Bypass Road, known as “Lev Hashomron,” was opened in the presence of Transportation Minister Miri Regev and Samaria Regional Council Chairman Yossi Dagan. The road serves a total of four settlements: Yitzhar, Itamar, Har Bracha, and Alon Moreh, with a combined population of only 8,000 settlers. The estimated cost of the 7.5-kilometer road is approximately 350 million shekels (about 43,000 shekels per settler). Despite the ongoing war, the government is investing considerable efforts to open the road quickly, and construction continued even during the Gaza war, despite interruptions in other building and infrastructure projects during this period. The road’s trajectory required the confiscation of private Palestinian lands from the villages of Burin, Huwara, Beita, Awarta, Yasuf, Yatma, and A-Sawiya.

The old Huwara Road, which until recently served both settlers and Palestinians, has been a central artery for Palestinian traffic from the Nablus area to Ramallah and southern West Bank. The road has been closed to Palestinian traffic since the beginning of the war. The Central Command Chief decided to reopen the road to Palestinians in parallel with the opening of the bypass road. However, settlers opposed its reopening, arguing that the old Huwara Road should also serve as a secure passage only for settlers. Eventually, the old Huwara Road was reopened to limited Palestinian traffic only on the evening of Sunday, November 12, 2023.

Bypass roads imply development only for settlements – the construction of a bypass road represents a significant enhancement in the accessibility of settlements to Israel and to the central hubs of employment and daily life. Almost invariably, there is a sharp rise in the development of settlements along the route of such a bypass road.

Bypass roads are developed in response to settlers’ demands for “secure” crossings that do not pass through Palestinian villages. Despite the considerable investment in developing these roads, bypass roads not only fail to improve the security of Israeli residents but primarily increase the number of settlers, thereby escalating the security burden associated with settlements. However, the security of settlers is also only partially affected by bypass roads. Unfortunately, incidents and stone-throwing occur even on bypass roads.

The Huwara Bypass Road

Peace Now: “The Huwara Bypass Road is being developed for the benefit of some thousand settlers living in an area with approximately one million Palestinians. The aim is to create a fast route for isolated settlements deep in the West Bank. Instead of evicting these isolated settlements, Israel continues to deepen construction, segregation, and land expropriation from Palestinian areas in the West Bank.”