Courtesy of JNS. Photo credit: Koach LaOvdim
A bus after terrorists stoned it in Judea and Samaria

(JNS) — On one of Judea and Samaria’s busiest highways, stone-throwing terrorism against Israeli commuters has spiked to an unprecedented level.

Route 55 has become a prime target for Palestinian terrorism, against both private vehicles and commuter buses.

Rafael Cohen-Yigudaiev, a bus driver on the Kedumim-Kfar Saba line, told Israel Hayom about a horrifying incident during which a large stone was hurled at his bus, narrowly missing his wife.

“If I hadn’t swerved in the nick of time, the stone would have struck the windshield, possibly injuring or even killing her,” Cohen-Yigudaiev said. “The shattered glass reached the back seats. We are traumatized. I urge people not to sit near specific windows. It’s only a matter of time until someone gets hurt.”

The rise in attacks comes as Palestinian assailants consider these buses attractive targets, using heavy stones as they ambush vehicles at various locations.

In the past year, 24 buses operated by the Tnufa public transit company, which serves Jerusalem and Samaria, have come under attack, with many of them sustaining damage to the point that they had to be taken off the road. As of early September, four drivers had been wounded in these attacks and granted medical leave.

Hannanal Dorani, the mayor of Kedumim, said, “This road has become a target for stone-throwing attacks. There is hardly a day that goes by without a car or a bus being targeted. Luckily, most of the attacks result in damage to property.”

Dorani stressed that major intersections on Route 55 have become security hazards because they are built in such a way that they force vehicles to slow down, making them easy targets.

The severity of the situation has prompted local residents to take matters into their own hands.

Aviad Gadot, a Kedumim resident and the organizer of the Torat Lechima organization that supports the formation of a civilian patrol unit, believes that the security forces’ rules of engagement hamper their ability to address the situation effectively. “When Jews are on the line, the IDF should be there,” he said.

However, Dorani opposes the civilian patrols.

“It would be wrong to establish a private militia. We must not take matters into our own hands. The army is strong and knows how to do the job, but we need to place joint pressure on the authorities to act as needed,” he said.

The army said in a statement, “This is a private civilian initiative not coordinated with the IDF. The IDF operates using various means, both overt and covert, to address stone-throwing incidents and has apprehended dozens of suspects in recent months.”