Chilean media reported Tuesday that four Israeli backpackers
were thrown out of the Torres del Paine National Park, one of the most popular parks in South America, for violating the area's laws and lighting fire in the park's jurisdiction for the purpose of starting a bonfire.
One of the Israeli travelers' father told Ynet that as far as he knows, the local police released the backpackers. "All they wanted to do was heat up some tuna fish," he said.
Just two years ago, an Israeli traveler, Rotem Singer, was accused of causing a massive wildfire that destroyed tens of thousands of acres in the natural reserve for burning toilet paper. The Chilean media is constantly reminding of that incident in its current report.
According to Chilean reports, the four Israeli backpackers were surprised by the national park's inspectors in the wee hours of the night, while burning papers in tin bins and adding pieces of wood into them. The inspectors evacuated the Israelis from the scene and filed a complaint against them with the police – and according to the reports, also transferred them to the hands of police officers.
Massive wildfire in Chile's Torres del Paine in 2012 (Photo: AFP)
Following the incident, Torres del Paine authorities reminded visitors to be attentive to park procedures. They reminded that at the entrance to the national park, all travelers must sign papers clarifying the rules which are to be respected in the area, particularly the ban on lighting fire within park territory.
Torres del Paine is one of the most famous national parks in Chile,
and many Israelis pay a visit to the park as part of their South American journeys, as well as hordes of other tourists from around the world.
In January 2012, an Israeli tourist, 23-year-old Rotem Singer, was arrested in Chile following a massive wildfire that broke out in the natural reserve. The authorities accused him that a toilet paper he burned caused the fire to spread, as firefighters battled the great forest fire for days. Singer denied the allegations, and after a month he reached a settlement with the Chilean prosecution and was released.
At the time, Chilean politicians raised a demand to have Israel
pay for the damage caused to the area, as the Czech Republic did after a Czech tourist caused a fire a few years earlier. Six months later, the Jewish National Fund announced a campaign to raise millions of dollars to aid the rebuilding of the park.
The fire in Chile in 2012 brought about several harsh anti-Israel and anti-Semitic expressions by politicians in Chile who are affiliated with the large Palestinian community that resides in the country, and raised a public debate over the allegedly insolent behavior by Israeli travelers who visit the country after their service in the IDF.
Singer himself was taken to custody as Chileans shouted hateful anti-Semitic comments at him.