In response to the panic over the coronavirus, the IDF announced on Sunday that it was preparing to quarantine around 200 South Korean tourists at a military base in Har Gilo. This was done without informing the civilian population, never mind consulting in it.
Gush Etzion residents on Sunday protested the IDF move, and blocked local roads. They also sent an urgent letter to Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, saying: “Cancel the dangerous decision immediately. As the pandemic spreads – you will be responsible for endangering the lives of Jerusalem area residents.”
Gush Etzion Regional Council Head Shlomo Ne’eman responded to the unilateral decision saying:
“Just by chance we discovered the intention of the IDF to create a medical isolation facility in the heart of a civilian community. This is completely unacceptable. Even if there is a need for the treatment of the virus, the decision can’t be made behind the backs of local officials. The Kiryah compound in Tel Aviv is also a military facility, so why not set up a quarantine site there?
“We demand that those in charge rescind this decision immediately and initiate dialogue with our local authorities as required by protocol. We are no one’s ‘backyard’ and we will not be able to operate within our communities if our local council doesn’t have the authority to make decisions.”
The Gush Etzion Regional Council announced on Sunday evening:
“The midrasha facility in Har Gilo is not suitable to house the South Koreans, therefore they will not be arriving there. The infrastructure of the facility can not accommodate their needs.”