Police crackdown on unsafe Palestinian cars yielding impressive results

With only 19 traffic units assigned to Judea and Samaria, drones are being widely used to catch traffic offenders and dangerous vehicles.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A recent police crackdown in Judea and Samaria on unsafe and illegal Palestinian cars has been yielding impressive results and making the roads significantly safer, Israel Hayom reported Thursday.

Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, head of IDF Central Command, signed an order several months ago authorizing the traffic police to take the vehicles of those who drove recklessly in the region, endangering human life. In the last five weeks alone, said the report, 200 Palestinians had their cars impounded and their drivers’ licenses revoked.

This was a very important step, said the district’s commander of the traffic department, Deputy Superintendent Itzik Sharabi, because Palestinians generally do not pay traffic fines when they do receive them. According to the paper, the IDF and its Civil Administration is responsible for collecting such fines but they do not do so.

“We have now received a sanction that they cannot evade,” he said. “You have to understand: a taxi driver whose car is taken away for 30 days feels it in his pocket – strongly. We already feel that the number of crossings over a white line [to overtake another car] is decreasing.”

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The next special operation, set to begin in about a week, is to confiscate Palestinian cars that are being illegally driven after having been ordered off the roads due to their precarious mechanical condition.

“This is an important target,” Sharabi said. “They are involved in traffic accidents, criminal offenses and illegal activities.”

These illegal activities can also include terrorist attacks, as when a six-year-old boy was killed in July when a Palestinian crossed a solid white line and hit the car his mother was driving, in what she charged was a deliberate ramming.

Jews living in the region have complained for years and have gone to protest at junctions recently over the wild driving they often encounter, as well as the poor condition of the roads. These are mostly two-lane affairs with many curves but no shoulders that are lit only at junctions.

There are also only 19 police cars assigned to the traffic division for the entire area.

One of the reasons for this, said the report, is that accidents between Palestinian cars are not weighted in the calculation of general accidents in Judea and Samaria, so the true numbers are not known. This is set to change soon, and once the skewed data is set straight, the police will hopefully get a larger budget that will enable them to put more cars out on patrol.

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The police have been using eyes in the sky to supplement their small numbers on the ground.

“Due to the nature of the roads in Judea and Samaria, I use a lot of helicopters and drones for enforcement – the most in Israel,” Sharabi said.