Israel Road Network

By | October 31, 2022

According to wholevehicles, Israel has a good and extensive road network, which is considerably better developed than in neighboring countries.

Motorways

The Kessem Interchange between Route 5 and Route 6 at Petah Tikva.

The highway network is relatively limited, and is mainly located around Tel Aviv and central Israel. Route 1 is the highway from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Route 2 connects Tel Aviv to Haifa, Route 4 forms a bypass of Tel Aviv and runs from Gaza to Lebanon, and Route 6 forms a long-distance toll road from the north to the south. Route 20 runs through central Tel Aviv and is known as the Ayalon Highway. In addition, there are a number of shorter highways, such as routes 5, 7, 22, 431, 471 and 531.

Many highways have reasonable capacity, 2×3 lanes are common around Tel Aviv and on major radiating highways, such as the 1 and 2. Some highways have up to 2×5 lanes.

Toll roads

The Fast Lane on Route 1.

Israel’s road network is generally toll-free, with a few exceptions;

  • Route 1 has a ‘fast lane’ for which toll has to be paid.
  • Route 6 is Israel’s only long-distance toll road.
  • Route 23 in Haifa (Carmel Tunnels).

Israel uses electronic toll collection. This is obvious because there are practically no foreign vehicles driving around in Israel.

Main road network

A large part of the main road network has been developed as a dual carriageway with 2×2 lanes and at-grade intersections. Many roads are well developed, including grade-separated intersections in the underlying road network.

There is a fairly extensive road network in the West Bank, especially in the areas where the Israeli road service manages the roads. These often connect Israeli places on the West Bank, but the connecting main roads of the West Bank are also in good condition, and sometimes well developed. For example, route 1 from Jerusalem to Jericho will be widened to 2×2 lanes and route 5 has also been expanded with 2×2 lanes. Not all roads in the West Bank are open to both Israeli and Palestinian vehicles, this is a consequence of the Oslo Accords of 1993. Before that, free movement was easier.

Israel no longer has control in the Gaza Strip and the Israeli road service does not manage roads there. This does apply to the Golan, where the roads are managed by Israel. In the buffer zones with Lebanon and Syria, the Israeli road service has no say, but the United Nations does.

Road management

The national road authority in Israel is Netivei Yisra’el (Hebrew: נתיבי ישראל), which means Routes of Israel. Netivei Israel manages 7,700 kilometers of roads, 1,200 bridges and tunnels, and tens of thousands of traffic lights and lampposts. Its history dates back to 1921, when the Public Works Department was established under the British Mandate. This was also known as Ma’atz (Hebrew: מע”צ) and existed as a government agency until 2003. In September 2003, The Israel National Roads Company Ltd., a company owned by the Israeli government, was founded. In 2012, the name changed to Netivei Israel – National Transport Infrastructure Company Ltd. Due to the increased responsibilities Netivei Israel also develops rail infrastructure in Israel.

Nodes

Junctions in Israel
Anava • Ashdod • Bar Ilan • Ben Shemen • Daniel • Ganot • Glilot Ma’arav • Glilot Mizrah • Haifa Darom • Holot • Kessem • Kfar Smaryahu • Kibbutz Galuyot • Mevo Ayalon • Morasha • Nesharim • Rishon Darom • Rishpon • Sorek • Yigael Yadin

Border crossings

Israel has some border crossings with neighboring countries, but only those with Egypt and Jordan are open to general passenger traffic. There are border crossings with Egypt and the Gaza Strip that are only intended for freight traffic. The amount of passenger cars crossing the borders with Egypt and Jordan is very small, on average at most a few dozen per day. Drivers must register their vehicle in the neighboring country and apply a registration number of that neighboring country.

There are border crossings with Lebanon and Syria, but they are not open to citizens and tourists and are managed by the United Nations. It is possible to travel to Israel by car using the ferry service to Haifa from Cyprus and Greece.

With Egypt

There are two border crossings with Egypt. The Nitzana Border Crossing, located about 50 kilometers inland from the Mediterranean Sea, mainly handles freight traffic, but has been used by tourists in the past. Near Eilat is the Taba Border Crossing, the only border crossing between the two countries that is open to tourists/persons. Both border crossings have been in use since 1982.

With the Gaza Strip

There are two border crossings with the Gaza Strip, the Erez Crossing in the north and the Kerem Shalom border crossing in the south near the border with Egypt. The Kerem Shalom border crossing is only used by freight traffic to and from Gaza. The Erez Crossing is also used for passenger traffic, but its use has declined sharply since 2000 due to conflicts with the Palestinians and Hamas.

With Jordan

There are three border crossings with Jordan and all of them can be used by tourist and passenger traffic. In the south of Eilat is the Wadi Araba Crossing. To the north is the Jordan River Crossing at Beit She’an. The most famous is the Allenby Bridge east of Jericho. This is the only border crossing from the West Bank to Jordan. It is also the most used of all Israel border crossings. All border crossings with Jordan were inaugurated in 1994, although the Allenby Bridge is older, dating back to the early 20th century. In addition, there are some disused border bridges between the West Bank and Jordan.

With Lebanon

The Rosh HaNikra Crossing with Lebanon is located on the Mediterranean coast north of Haifa. This is the only operational border crossing between the two countries, but is not open to general traffic. The border crossing is managed by UNIFIL and the IDF.

With Syria

There are no general border crossings with Syria. A ceasefire dividing line between Syria and the Golan Heights is maintained. This is where the Quneitra Crossing is located. Syrian Druze living on the Golan Heights are allowed to use this border crossing. There is no general passenger or freight traffic between Israel and Syria.

Road numbering

Blue road numbers are highways. Red road numbers are main roads.

The number of digits in the number says something about the importance of a road within the road network. Road numbers can have up to 4 digits. The higher the number, the smaller the importance. The single-digit and two-digit roads make up Israel’s main road network. Even numbers run north-south and odd numbers run east-west. This road network is built in a grid, Route 2 forms the westernmost north-south route, Route 90 the easternmost along the Jordanian border. For odd numbers, this is especially true for the area north of the Negev desert, as there are relatively few roads and towns in the south to form a grid.

The three-digit numbers have a more regional importance and are often access routes to the one and two-digit roads. In some cases, these have been extended to highway standards, for example routes 404, 431, 471 and 531. These roads are usually single-lane, but are sometimes also extended with 2×2 or more lanes, especially in the Gush Dan metropolitan area around Tel Aviv.

Four-digit roads have only local importance and are divided into zones. Usually they are no longer than a few kilometers and mainly connect villages and rural areas with the other roads or they form connections between regional roads. This numbering system means that almost every road has a number.

The above road numbering applies to all areas controlled by the Israeli road service, including parts of the West Bank (but not everywhere) and the Golan Heights. Israel no longer has control over Gaza, so the road numbers do not apply there either. After the Arab invasion of 1948 and the subsequent Jordanian occupation of the West Bank, the Israeli road service had no control over road management in the West Bank between 1948 and 1967.

Signage

Israel’s main road network.

Israeli signage is a mixture of European and American influences. Highways have blue signs, other roads have green signs. Some highway appearance roads have green signage because they are not officially a highway. Places are always indicated multilingually, in Hebrew and English, and in Arabic where applicable, especially in the border regions with the West Bank and around Jerusalem. The font used is the Highway Gothic font which is also used in the United States and the Netherlandsis used. Arrows point down on gantry signs at through lanes, and up on exit signs. Road numbers are always indicated. Distance signs are often trilingual, so they don’t indicate too many targets to reduce the number of objects to read, especially for people who can read all three scriptures and automatically absorb everything.

Road numbers for highways are blue shields with a white area containing the number. A red background applies to other 1 and 2 digit main roads. Tourist targets are indicated on brown signs. The distance to exits is indicated by a yellow box with the distance in meters in black letters. This yellow area has a black frame. The designation “meter” or “m” is not indicated.

The Dutch airport and industry symbol is also used in Israel. Warning signs have a yellow background and are usually trilingual (Hebrew, Arabic and English). In some cases, fork carriages are used, but these are rare. Typically, exits and junctions have control signs, similar to conventional signage in the Netherlands and the United States. The exit sign at the divergence point is yellow with black lettering and trilingual.

Electronic signage, mostly warning symbols, is common on Israeli highways, especially around Tel Aviv. There may be even older signposts that have a simpler appearance with a font similar to France, also with capital letters. White signposts with black letters are also often used on the secondary road network.

Road Appearance

A striking feature of the Israeli roads is that highways have a yellow marking on the right side between the lanes and the hard shoulder. The left side marker is white, as are the center markers. The road appearance is otherwise modern and comparable to Western Europe. Lighting is limited to some highways.

On the underlying road network, the edge stripes are also yellow, but the center markings are white. Quite a few main roads have narrow emergency lanes.

At exits and intersections, arrows are almost always indicated on the road surface to clarify the road situation. Wide highways often also have a left hard shoulder. Traffic lights work similar to those in Germany, an orange light is briefly shown before the green light. Points at connections are not completely filled, but have sergeant stripes. Block markings are used for exits, similar to the Netherlands.

At intersections, black and white striped curbs are often used to accentuate the intersection. Road signs are similar to what is standard in Europe. It is striking that lampposts often also have a black and white band with horizontal stripes at the bottom.

Maximum speed

The speed limit on highways varies from 90 to 120 km/h. A speed limit of 80 km/h applies on some substandard parts, for example on Route 2 just before Haifa and on Route 1 just before Jerusalem. Since 2014, it is allowed to drive 120 km/h on Israeli highways, before this was 110 km/h. Outside the basin, the speed limit on main roads is generally 90 km/h.

Road safety

Israeli roads are among the safest in the world, and are significantly safer than other countries in the region. Compared to the European Union, Israel is well below the EU average.

The table below shows the number of road deaths per year, and the average over each decade between 1950 and 2010.

Year Road fatalities Ratio per 1 million inhabitants
2015 322 38
2014 279 34
2013 277 34
2010 352 46
2000-2009 439 64
1990-1999 504 92
1980-1989 437 104
1970-1979 627 185
1960-1969 314 125
1950-1959 190 108

Israel Road Network