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Israeli police arrest 'anti-Palestinian' extremist settlers who escaped quarantine camp in occupied West Bank

A member of the extremist 'Hilltop Youth' movement at a settlement outpost [Getty]

Date of publication: 16 April, 2020

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Israeli police arrested two members of the hardline 'Hilltop Youth' settler group, after they escaped a military-run coronavirus quarantine camp in the occupied West Bank.
Israeli police on Thursday arrested two members of an extreme far-right settler group suspected of attacking Palestinians and firebombing their cars after they fled a military-run quarantine camp in the occupied West Bank earlier this week.

Police said they apprehended the pair as they drove down the Route 90 highway in the eastern West Bank.

They also found what they believed to be stolen military tents and equipment in their vehicle. 

The settlers, who belong to the extremist anti-Palestinian "Hilltop Youth" movement, had been instructed to quarantine at the military-run facility that had been established especially for them after their friend contracted the virus.

The group of around 20 youth had refused to go into quarantine in a state-run coronavirus hotel in Jerusalem as they did not want to be separated during Passover.

After they were put on a bus to another quarantine facility in southern Israel, the group smashed the vehicle's windows and escaped, according to Israeli media.

The special arrangements were made for the group despite explicit instructions from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stay at home and only celebrate the religious celebration with immediate family.

Three members of the group were accused of a vicious attack on a group of Palestinians camping near the military facility on Tuesday, reportedly throwing tear gas and rocks at their tent and then setting their cars on fire. The Palestinians managed to escape unharmed.

Pictures of the attack's aftermath, including the burned out cars, were circulated by Israeli media.

Police said they opened an investigation into the incident but made no immediate arrests - a common occurrence when Palestinians are attacked by settlers in the occupied West Bank.

An Israeli court issued police with a gag order on the investigation on Thursday, preventing the publication of all information pertaining to the case and its suspects.

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On Thursday morning, a number of the settlers were found to have absconded from the facility with tents and equipment stolen from the facility, prompting a manhunt.

A number of suspects reportedly remain at large.

The settler group are from settlements surrounding the Palestinian city of Nablus, known for their far-right ideology and dubbed an "incubator for Israeli settler violence".

Last month, residents of the Yitzhar settlement threw three firebombs at a border police vehicle.

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