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Israel Rolls Out First Palestinian-Only Buses In West Bank



QALQILYAH - The first official Palestinian-only bus lines began service Monday morning.

According to Israeli daily Haaretz, the Israel's Ministry of Transportation said it has launched the special bus lines in order to avoid conflicts. The lines are for the Palestinian workers who travel each from the West Bank into and around Tel Aviv for work.

The normal bus lines go from the Jewish settlements in the West Bank to Israel. Since Palestinians aren’t allowed to enter the settlements where most of the bus stops are, they usually get on the bus at midway stops along the road.

The Ministry is not referring to the new lines as officially separated services, but as a solution to the needs of Palestinians, and only announced the buses by way of a distribution of flyers in Arabic.

The Afikim bus company has launched only two new lines for now. Both depart from the Eyal crossing, one towards the northern area of the Dan Agglomeration, north of Tel Aviv, and the other south of the city.

Two testimonies, two opinions

In an interview given to Ynet , A driver for the Afikim bus company said: “It’s obvious that now everybody will scream ‘racism’ and ‘Apartheid lines,"" the driver said. "It is truly an unpleasant solution and we have to find another one in the future. But for now, the reality is unmanageable and something has to be done.”

There are two main problems that make the reality difficult for both sides. The first and most obvious one is the recurring verbal and physical conflicts between Palestinians and Israelis that takes place on buses. The second issue is one to that both Palestinians and the Israeli officials are happy to resolve: unauthorized transportation services.

Halil is a Palestinian construction worker who travels each day from Hebron to the suburbs of Tel Aviv. This morning while he was waiting for the special bus, he said to a Haaretz reporter: “Every day, I have to wake up at 3 in the morning and walk to the crossing to take some "pirate" transportation that costs me more than twice as much as those new buses.”

He says that for the low monthly salary he gets he will now save the equivalent amount of a work day. This morning, the pirates weren’t allowed access to the crossing.

The Israeli Transportation Ministry released a statement Monday: “The new lines will help to reduce the overcrowded buses, and will benefit both Israelis and Palestinians. The ministry isn’t allowed to refuse access to someone from using public transportation.”

Haaretz noted another motivation for the new buses was to try to prevent Palestinian workers who go back home through the Samaria area where there are many Jewish colonies.

Ofra Yeshua- Layeth told Haaretz that Israeli police stop buses on many occasions in the Samaria in order to check the identification papers of the Palestinian workers. Sometimes they aren’t allowed back on the bus, and must walk home.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

How Vulnerable Are The Russians In Crimea?

Ukraine has stepped up attacks on the occupied Crimean peninsula, and Russia is doing all within its power to deny how vulnerable it has become.

Photograph of the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters with smoke rising above it after a Ukrainian missile strike.

September 22, 2023, Sevastopol, Crimea, Russia: Smoke rises over the Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters after a Ukrainian missile strike.

Kyrylo Danylchenko

This article was updated Sept. 26, 2023 at 6:00 p.m.

Russian authorities are making a concerted effort to downplay and even deny the recent missile strikes in Russia-occupied Crimea.

Stay up-to-date with the latest on the Russia-Ukraine war, with our exclusive international coverage.

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Media coverage in Russia of these events has been intentionally subdued, with top military spokesperson Igor Konashenkov offering no response to an attack on Russian Black Sea Fleet headquarters in the Crimean city of Sevastopol, or the alleged downing last week of Russian Su-24 aircraft by Ukrainian Air Defense.

The response from this and other strikes on the Crimean peninsula and surrounding waters of the Black Sea has alternated between complete silence and propagating falsehoods. One notable example of the latter was the claim that the Russian headquarters building of the Black Sea fleet that was hit Friday was empty and that the multiple explosions were mere routine training exercises.

Ukraine claimed on Monday that the attack killed Admiral Viktor Sokolov, the commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet. "After the strike on the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, 34 officers died, including the commander of the Russian Black Sea Fleet. Another 105 occupiers were wounded. The headquarters building cannot be restored," the Ukrainian special forces said via Telegram.

But Sokolov was seen on state television on Tuesday, just one day after Ukraine claimed he'd been killed. The Russian Defense Ministry released footage of the admiral partaking in a video conference with top admirals and chiefs, including Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, though there was no verification of the date of the event.

Moscow has been similarly obtuse following other reports of missiles strikes this month on Crimea. Russian authorities have declared that all missiles have been intercepted by a submarine and a structure called "VDK Minsk", which itself was severely damaged following a Ukrainian airstrike on Sept. 13. The Russians likewise dismissed reports of a fire at the headquarters of the Black Sea Fleet, attributing it to a mundane explosion caused by swamp gas.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov has refrained from commenting on the military situation in Crimea and elsewhere, continuing to repeat that everything is “proceeding as planned.”

Why is Crimea such a touchy topic? And why is it proving to be so hard to defend?

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