Arab town (illustration)
Arab town (illustration) Yishai Karov

Four Israeli youths were safely rescued by IDF forces on Wednesday after accidentally entering a Palestinian town in Judea, in an event that easily could have ended tragically.

The four were on a hike when they wandered into Khirbet Umm Asfir, a Palestinian Authority (PA) controlled town adjacent to Bethlehem. After being rescued by security forces, the four were taken in for an investigation to clarify the circumstances of the incident.

The youths were on a hike from Ashdod on the Mediterranean Sea all the way to the Dead Sea, and on Wednesday morning they set out from Efrat in the Gush Etzion region of Judea heading towards Nahal Tekoa, a ravine leading to the Dead Sea.

Part of their path took them adjacent to areas controlled by the PA, and the IDF received reports of hikers walking adjacent to Areas A and B - regions under full or partial PA control according to the designations of the 1994 Oslo Accords.

The four realized their mistake, and managed to get out of the Arab town on their own and head to the Jewish town of Tekoa. They were met by IDF forces.

An IDF and police force confirmed no Israelis were still in the PA controlled regions and began investigating the youths, after which they continued on their journey to the Dead Sea.

Just last Tuesday two IDF soldiers came under attack by Arab assailants hurling rocks and firebombs at their car, after accidentally straying into the PA village of Beit Fajjar near Gush Etzion while using the Waze GPS app.

The incident recalls a previous, far more serious one in late February in which two soldiers narrowly escaped being lynched after following Waze instructions near Bet El in Samaria.