IDF suspends soldier allegedly filmed setting Palestinian field ablaze
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IDF suspends soldier allegedly filmed setting Palestinian field ablaze

Police investigating arson attack near West Bank settlement of Yitzhar; serviceman was on leave at the time

Screen capture from video allegedly showing an off-duty Israeli army soldier setting fire to a Palestinian farmer's field, in the northern West Bank, on May 17, 2019. (B'Tselem)
Screen capture from video allegedly showing an off-duty Israeli army soldier setting fire to a Palestinian farmer's field, in the northern West Bank, on May 17, 2019. (B'Tselem)

An Israeli settler filmed earlier this month setting a Palestinian field on fire in the northern West Bank was an off-duty soldier on weekend leave from the army, the IDF confirmed Sunday.

The IDF has suspended the soldier from his combat unit and the police have opened an investigation into the incident.

“The incident happened when the soldier was on leave, and therefore the matter was passed on to the Israel Police,” the IDF said in a statement. “At the same time, the soldier has been suspended from his duties.”

According to the Kan public broadcaster, the soldier, who lives in the northern West Bank, had been arrested before joining the army, on charges of firing an air pistol at a Palestinian taxi.

Last week, the B’Tselem rights group released footage of the May 17 incident, in which a man carrying an army-issue Tavor rifle is seen bending down to a field belonging to farmers from the villages of Burin and Asira al-Qibliya, near the Yitzhar settlement, and igniting a brush fire.

Yitzhar and its surrounding outposts are seen as an epicenter of settler violence and have often been linked to attacks on Palestinians and their property, including in Urif last month.

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