Palestine, You Better Run! Israel Plans to Dissect the West Bank with Railways

  Palestine Railways
Palestine Railways


In the last week of February 2012, Israel’s Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz announced that Israel Railways has prepared a major plan for new railways. This came days after the boring of Israel’s first-ever railway tunnel began. The new plan was prepared for the West Bank, and dissects it in such a way that Israel would be in fact annexing it. In 2010, Katz promised to revive the Ottoman and British Mandate-era rail line by establishing a railway between Jenin in the West Bank and Afula in the Jezreel Valley. He also allocated budget to plan a line from the town of Rosh Ha’ayin, northeast of Tel Aviv, to Nablus in the northern West Bank. Israel is rushing ahead to a reality in which the Palestinian Authority won’t be viable.



Planned West Bank RailwaysPlanned West Bank Railways | Israel Dissects Palestinian Authority


In Reviving Burma Road, I gave a short review of the railways in the Holy Land. Here, I’ll just comment that Zionism likes to portray itself as a modernizing force bringing technical advance to Middle Eastern natives living in unjustifiable poverty. Rakevet Israel (Israel Railways) is portrayed as the iron-rooster upon which modernity is gracefully delivered to the natives. History, of course, proved the opposite. In 1948, Zionists finally halted the Ottoman Hejaz Railway, of which Palestine Railways was part. Roughly seventy years later, little is left of this past achievement of a non-Western empire. Now, Israel is trying to redraw maps by reviving the Ottoman achievement.

The planned lines include one line running through Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Jerusalem, Ma’aleh Adumim, Bethlehem, and Hebron. Another would provide service along the Jordanian border from Eilat to the Dead Sea, Jericho and Beit She’an and from there toward Haifa in the west. The proposed scheme includes shorter routes, such as between Nablus and Tul Karm in the West Bank, and from Ramallah to the Allenby Bridge crossing into Jordan.

The plan includes infrastructure that would connect Israel’s railway at a later stage to Gaza and Egypt. The new fast line Tel Aviv-Jerusalem reported earlier, includes a strategic tunnel between Latrun and Shaar HaGay allowing it to bypass the narrowest point along Highway #1. This highway links Jerusalem with Tel Aviv, and is definitely Israel’s jugular vein; this railway would not only revive the Ottoman glory but also ease the defense of the route between the two cities. This is a traumatic spot for Israel; in 1948, Ariel Sharon failed twice to attack Latrun and break the Arab Legion siege on Jerusalem. Drawing all the lines together on a map, one can’t help but conclude that Israel is trying to mimic the Ottoman railways plan, adapting it to the actual reality by moving the Ottoman main line on the eastern bank of the Jordan to its western bank.



Hejaz RailwayHejaz Railway | Ottoman Empire Achievement


The Transportation Minister says he is pursuing the plan for the new rail lines “so as to permit it to be carried out in the future,” and in accordance with “a legal commitment the ministry made to the High Court of Justice.” Yet, this plan is huge; it includes 475km of railways, while Israel Railways actual length is just over 1000km. Implementing it would be costly and involve legal and diplomatic issues with the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. Can Israel construct the new lines?

It is obvious from the map that the plan has been constructed modularly. It features eleven different railways; Israel would attempt to implement it in parts, beginning with the short line between Rosh Ha’ayin to the West Bank settlement of Ariel. “Divide and Conquer” is probably the best description of the Israeli policy towards the Arab world. In Hebrew, this is known as the “Salami System:” slice and eat, slice and eat; accordingly “eating it/him/her without salt” is a Hebrew euphemism for an easy target, which in English would be usually referred as “a piece of cake,” or “a breeze.” This would be Israel’s strategy: one short railway line at a time, until the West Bank is dissected. The railways come in addition to the ongoing building of strategic roads which bear the same intention (see New Road Annexes East Jerusalem to Israel).

Jerusalem Railway Station
Jerusalem Railway Station


Oddly, the new plan was presented by the ministry to Israel Defense Forces’ Civil Administration, since most of the plan takes place beyond the jurisdiction of the Israeli Administration. It is as if the US government was planning railways in Mexico or Canada. “But it will help the Palestinian population!” Yisrael Katz would answer to me if he bothered reading this article.

Accordingly, a ministry’s document on the project explains that its aim is to “address the transportation needs of local residents and other passengers.” Evil arrives disguised as an Angel of Light (2 Corinthians 11:14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light); many succumb to its charming smile, dandy haircut, and proper manners.

This case is not different. Boarding an Israeli train car is not a simple task. Train stations look like classified military bases, with passengers needing to show their internal passport. These documents are clearly marked with the religious and ethnic groups of their carriers as per the Ministry of Interior inner lists. The personnel checking them can deny a passenger access to the train car without needing to explain their decision.

The only ones to move freely along these railways would be the Jewish settlers. Israel would not only have dissected the Palestinian Authority, it would also control the movements of its denizens; promoting and delaying their lives as per the dark wishes of secretive state workers who do not abide with the rule of law. Palestine, if you want to survive this slow and silent attack, you had better run!


 Tov Roy

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