IDF confirms temporary outpost set up for hilltop youth quarantine violators

‘Isolation’ site includes lodging tent, kitchenette, Beit Midrash study tent, showers, out-houses and generator; 20 far-right activists also receiving army protection

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Hilltop youth quarantining together in a tent provided by the IDF on April 7, 2020. (Courtesy)
Hilltop youth quarantining together in a tent provided by the IDF on April 7, 2020. (Courtesy)

The army has built a temporary outpost in the West Bank for a group of 20 far-right extremists who violated the government’s coronavirus guidelines and  shattered the windows of a bus taking them to a quarantine hotel, the military confirmed Wednesday.

Photos taken at the site on Wednesday showed that the outpost includes a large tent where the so-called hilltop youth sleep together, a Beit Midrash tent for religious study, a tent for the teens to prepare food, showers, out-houses and a generator.

The IDF confirmed that it had established the compound and was providing protection to the far-right activists, but declined to comment further.

On Tuesday, an army spokeswoman said the site was only a temporary solution.

The 20 teens were transferred to the site in Metzoke Dragot, near the Dead Sea on Monday night and have been allowed to lodge all together, in violation of the government’s coronavirus guidelines, which require those who come in contact with confirmed carriers to isolate on their own.

The group, from the Givat Ronen outpost in the northern West Bank, had initially been taken to a Jerusalem hotel on Monday morning after one of their peers tested positive for COVID-19. In addition to the 20 other inhabitants of the outpost, the teen forced the IDF’s Central Command head Nadav Padan into quarantine.

When the group arrived at the state-run Jerusalem hotel, they were told that each of them would be required to stay in separate rooms like all other guests. When they refused, police decided to bus them to an alternative site in the south.

One of the far-right activists filmed another on the bus saying they had not been told where they were being taken, and were concerned that their destination might be a detention center run by the Shin Bet internal security service.

The hilltop youth subsequently wreaked havoc on the bus, shattering most of the windows. Several of the far-right activists managed to flee, but were apprehended by Border Police.

Police said an investigation would be opened against the teens over the bus vandalism.

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