Israeli Soldier Filmed Setting Fire to Field Near Palestinian Village Arrested

Police arrested West Bank settlement resident for arson, say investigation continues

One of the settlers seen setting fields on fire in B'Tselem's documentation.
B'Tselem / Screengrab

Israeli police arrested early Tuesday morning a soldier who was filmed setting fire to a field near a Palestinian village in the Nablus area.

A source familiar with the details of the investigation said that the soldier is a resident of the Har Bracha settlement, also near Nablus. The Israeli army suspended him with the launch of a military police investigation, about two weeks ago.

The police said in a statement that they have opened an investigation on suspicion of arson "after investigative materials, including the video, were transferred to the police by the military police a few days ago."

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The video was filmed about two weeks ago by an investigator from the NGO B'Tselem, and shows the soldier, who was on leave from the army, setting fire to the field between the settlement of Yitzhar and the Palestinian village of Urif. He can be seen carrying a military rifle.

"In the context of the investigation, and prior to his imprisonment, different investigative activities were carried out," the police added. "Last night we arrested the arson suspect, a soldier who was on leave. The suspect was interrogated at that time and the investigation continues."

Clashes broke out two weeks ago in the area between Yitzhar and the nearby Palestinian villages of Burin, Urif and Asira al-Qibliya, with settlers and Palestinians accusing each other of setting farm fields on fire. A week later, the Israeli military admitted that Jewish settlers set the fire, changing its story after it originally blamed the arson on Palestinians.

B'Tselem's video shows that at least two settlers set fields on fire. Another video shows settlers at Yitzhar fields, lighting fires that quickly spread.