Israel sets up West Bank 'quarantine outpost' for extremists

Israel sets up coronavirus 'quarantine settlement outpost' for Jewish extremists in the West Bank


3 min read
08 April, 2020
The Israeli Defence Force has set up a temporary outpost in the West Bank for a group of far-right "hilltop youth" after they refused to self-isolate in a hotel.
Young Jewish hardliners known as "hilltop youth" are notorious for setting up wildcat outposts [Twitter]
The Israeli army has allowed a group of 20 far-right activists to quarantine themselves on a deserted West Bank hilltop on Monday night after they refused to self-isolate separately in a hotel. 

Allowing the extremist youngsters, also known as "hilltop youth", to quarantine together in a large group violates the social distancing measures brought in by the Israeli government to stop the spread of coronavirus throughout Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said it was providing the group with food and other essential supplies but added the makeshift site was a temporary solution.

The far-right activists are from the Givat Ronen settlement outpost in the northern West Bank, the Times of Israel reported.

After one of the young activists tested positive for coronavirus, all the outpost's inhabitants were taken to be quarantined in a state-run Jerusalem hotel Monday morning. 

At the hotel, the group refused to be confined to separate rooms like the other guests, at which point they were taken to an alternative site in the south, the Times of Israel reported. 
The activists, who say they feared they were being taken to a Shin Bet detention centre, trashed the bus and shattered the windows. Some members of the group attempted to flee but were stopped by border police.

The Israeli army then transferred the far-right group to a "makeshift isolation site in Metzoke Dragot", the Times of Israel reported, in the southern West Bank near the Dead Sea.

The so-called hilltop youth, a loosely affiliated group of Jewish hardliners, are known to set up wildcat outposts, often little more than a few caravans, in the occupied West Bank. 

The outposts are in many cases retroactively legalised by the Israeli government.

The international community regards all Jewish settlements in the West Bank as illegal, but the Israeli government makes a distinction between those it has authorised and those it has not.

There are more than 9,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Israel and Palestinians fear that troops from the Jewish state might cause further West Bank infections.

Concern has also risen about a possible surge in West Bank infections caused by the thousands of Palestinians who have returned home in recent days from jobs in Israel.

Israel banned inter-city travel from Tuesday to Friday this week to forestall the spread of coronavirus during the Passover holidays.

Read more: Coronavirus under occupation - Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails fear the worst

Cases in Israel are concentrated heavily in the ultra-Orthodox community where health restrictions have been slow to take root, with some refusing to accept the limitations. 

Israelis are currently restricted from venturing out more than 100 metres (330 feet) from their homes, except to go to the supermarket, pharmacy or hospital. 

Agencies contributed to this report.

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