Sunday, November 01, 2020

Israeli soldier filmed setting fire to West Bank field

By Myriam Purtscher - May 29, 2019
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [settler violence]


One of two Jewish settlers caught on video igniting a fire in a West Bank field on 17 May has been identified as an IDF soldier.


The Israeli army has confirmed they are aware of the identity of the perpetrator, stating he was on leave when the arson took place.


According to Middle East Monitor, the Israeli military stated that “the Israel Police are expected to handle the incident”, while “the police said that they have yet to arrest the soldier”.


Israeli Human Rights organisation B’Tselem filmed the settlers torching the fields in Burin and 'Asirah al-Qibliyah in the occupied West Bank.


The Israeli military initially blamed Palestinians for starting the fires. However after B’Tselem published the video which clearly showed settlers lighting the fires, the army was forced to retract their allegations.


The torched fields in Burin are situated approximately 400 meters from the village homes, and one kilometre from the settlement of Giv'at Ronen.


According to a statement by B’Tselem; “soldiers nearby did not arrest the attackers and prevented the Palestinians from approaching their burning land”.


B’Tselem added, “This complete backing from the state authorities is consistent with Israel’s longstanding policy in the West Bank, under which such acts of violence serve its interests and help it achieve its goals.”


There have been no arrests made for any of these attacks.


According to Middle East Eye, violence by Jewish settlers and right-wing activists against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank tripled last year, with 482 such incidents reported by mid-December, compared to 140 for 2017.


However, despite the rise in violations, the rate of persecution remains low.


In a ten-year review published in May 2015, human rights organization Yesh Din found that some 85% of investigations into cases of settler violence, including arson, damage to property, mutilation of trees and takeover of land ended with no action taken against the perpetrators.


The review also found the likelihood of police complaint filed by a Palestinian resulting in the conviction of an Israeli civilian was a mere 1.9%.


Given the futility of this effort, the study showed many Palestinians choose to forgo filing a complaint altogether.

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