'A new road in the West Bank that separates Palestinian and Israeli drivers was closed by protesters on Wednesday, before they were dispersed by Israeli police deploying teargas and stun grenades.
Route 4370 is dubbed the “apartheid road” by some campaigners because of its 8-metre dividing wall of concrete and metal. The western side of the road is principally for Israelis, and the eastern side principally for Palestinians.
The road, which opened earlier this month, allows residents of Jewish settlements in the West Bank to reach Jerusalem faster than if they had to pass through the congested Hizma checkpoint north of the city.
The Palestinian side of the road is designed to take cars into an underpass that will eventually connect the Palestinian cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem without motorists having to drive through Jerusalem. Most Palestinians living in the West Bank do not have permits to enter Jerusalem.
A group of protesters, comprising Israeli, Palestinian and international activists, blocked access to the road for about 30 minutes on Wednesday morning, holding a banner saying “No to apartheid, no to annexation”. One person was arrested and another injured.
“We came to protest against the opening of what is essentially an apartheid road. This road is mainly meant to benefit settlers. We don’t support segregated roads built on Palestinian land,” said Maya Rosen, one of the protesters.
She said police had used teargas and stun grenades to disperse protesters. Israeli police could not be contacted for comment.
Israeli officials say that both sides of the roads are open to Israelis and Palestinians as long as they have the correct documentation.
Yisrael Gantz, the head of the Binyamin regional council, which represents more than 40 settlements and outposts in the West Bank, said the new road was “no less than an oxygen line for the region’s residents, who work, study and go out for entertainment in Jerusalem”. Access to the city had been “revolutionised”, he said.'
Read more: Protest closes Israel's 'apartheid road' through West Bank
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