Settler Youths Flee Military-run Coronavirus Quarantine After Attack on Palestinian Campers

The settler youths were placed in a quarantine compound near the Dead Sea. On Monday, they attacked Palestinian campers and torched their cars. On Thursday, police arrested two suspects

הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf
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Palestinian cars torched by Israeli settlers near the Dead Sea, April 14, 2020.
הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf

A group of radical settler youths who had been put in a coronavirus quarantine facility in the West Bank on Thursday abandoned the camp, which was set up for them by the military.

A source in the defense establishment said that several army tents were stolen. Police arrested two suspects.

On Monday, the group attacked Palestinian campers and torched their cars. Israeli police opened an investigation into the incident which took place in the southern West Bank, near the Dead Sea.

According to an initial investigation, two Palestinians from Jenin and a third from Haifa, an Israeli citizen, set up their tent in a camping site near the quarantine compound. The settlers approached them and asked for cigarettes, then returned to the quarantine compound.

Palestinian cars torched by Israeli settlers near the Dead Sea, April 14, 2020.

About 15 minutes later, they came back to the site and began throwing stones at the group of campers and set their two cars ablaze.

The three Palestinian required no medical treatment, and were questioned by police.

The group of settlers, all from the area of the infamous settlement of Yitzhar, south of Nablus, were placed in a secluded tent last week, after they came in contact with a confirmed coronavirus patient.

They refused to go into quarantine in one of the state-run coronavirus hotels, because they would have been placed there in separate rooms, which would not have allowed them to celebrate the Passover seder together.

Jewish Israelis were asked to refrain from celebrating last Wednesday's seder with people outside of their household in an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus during the holiday.

A defense official commented that the incident is further proof that the settlers, belonging to the hilltop youth from Yitzhar are a "violent, extremist and racist group that reigns terror wherever it goes." Their actions show "their gratitude to the State of Israel for taking care of them during the coronavirus crisis," said the official sarcastically, adding that security forces will bring the suspects to justice.

Last week, the youth was transferred to the quarantine compound in a military bus. En route to the Dead Sea some of them broke the vehicle's windows and escaped. They were later caught by the police.

The settlers were in quarantine because they had come into contact with a sick patient. That same patient had been in contact with an army major general, who also had to be quarantined.

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said in a statement that “Vandalizing the compound set up by the military and setting ablaze Palestinian cars is an abomination, which has crossed every red line.

“This disgrace is unheard of, and we have no intention of letting this slide. I refuse to accept any act of violence, especially now, when the IDF and Israel’s defense establishment have enlisted to overcome the coronavirus crisis. We’ve instructed security forces to track down the suspects and bring them to justice, so that the following message is loud and clear: There’s a price for violence,” Bennet said.

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