(Communicated by the IDF Spokesperson)

As of this morning, September 11, 2008, the Halhul Bridge Crossing, which connects the city of Hebron and the Tarqumiya crossing, is open for the free passage of Palestinian trucks between the hours of 5:00-20:00. Ten road blocks in the Hebron area were removed a week earlier.

The Halhul Bridge crossing will replace the Judea Junction crossing that was closed recently, as a result of safety and security assessments. It will significantly improve the free movement of trucks resulting in improvements to the daily life of the Palestinian population.

The opening of the Halhul Bridge Crossing is in addition to a number of major crossings opened for free passage in recent months, improving the free movement of the Palestinian population. Approximately 100 IDF checkpoints have also been removed in the region.

These measures have been an important factor contributing to the significant improvement in the Palestinian economy in Judea and Samaria in the first half of 2008. Improvements include an increase in the number of employment and trade permits issued, the increased use of public transportation, a large expansion of the tourism industries, increases in the export of fresh agricultural crops to Israel and a rise in the Al Kuds capital markets index, amongst others. (For more details, see Palestinian Economy in West Bank strengthens in first half of 2008, September 8)

The opening of the bridge is part of the package of goodwill measures which were authorized by the Minister of Defense and the IDF Chief of Staff, and which have been implemented over the past few months.