The Perils Of A Night Launch From Jerusalem


Last Thursday I was invited by Israpundit to a gathering at his home in Jerusalem. As most of you know I come from London which many Americans consider a confusing and complex city to navigate around on account of some of it having been built quite a few hundred years ago. Most notably, of course, the city is not based on a grid.

If you step back a few thousand years more you arrive at Jerusalem. Its true that the newer bits have been added relatively recently but as it is built across a sprawling and confusing array of hills it’s an extreme navigational challenge. Without GPS I’m pretty much lost from the moment I enter.

For driving in Israel I use the free iPhone app, Waze, which was developed here in Israel just up the road from me. Maybe because of this the Israeli version of Waze has an important feature for a GPS system in Israel: an option to “Keep within areas under Israeli authority”.

I never really paid attention to this option in the past but a couple of weeks ago I took a drive out to the Shomron and in order to do that I had to turn off this particular option. Well, of course, I forgot to turn it back on again.

On leaving Israpundit’s home, I turned on my sat nav, dialed my wife and started driving simultaneously. By the time I started paying attention to the route, I had a gut feel I wasn’t driving on routes I recognised but, just like Luke, I listened to the little voice and just followed the force (OK I blindly obeyed the GPS lady).

Jerusalem to Tel Aviv – yellow is the “normal” route

In the map above, blue is the route I took on this drive, yellow is the way I would normally go. The dashed line is the old border and you can see that the highway 1 route I’d normally take even cuts that border (at a place called Latrun).

I only really knew I was on a new road (for me anyway) when I drove by a “check point” on the other side of the road. My side, leaving Jerusalem, was completely unhindered. Entering Jerusalem there is what looks just like a toll booth and cars were passing mostly unhindered through it. A few miles later I passed through the checkpoint on my side of the road that is the pair of the one I saw earlier. This forced me to slow down but not even stop, as I drove through and back into fully controlled parts of Israel. Once again I was hardly inconvenienced by this checkpoint. And, unlike a toll plaza in the US, they didn’t even take money from me.

I’m sure I’ll be using this route again!

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