The military announced in a statement on Sunday that the settler seen setting fire to the fields was an off-duty soldier from an Israeli combat unit.
“The incident happened when the soldier was on leave, and so the matter was passed on to the Israel police,” the statement read. “At the same time, the soldier has been suspended from his duties.”
The Israeli military had previously blamed the arson on Palestinians, saying that it had extinguished “a fire set by Palestinians near Asirah al-Qibliyah” after clashes broke out on May 17 between Israeli settlers from the nearby settlement of Yitzhar and Palestinians from the surrounding villages of Burin, Urif, and Asirah al-Qibliyah.
The army then corrected the statement after Israeli rights NGO B’Tselem published a video showing Israeli settlers walking through Palestinian fields and igniting fires.
Video proves Israeli settlers set fire to West Bank fieldsA new video released by an Israeli human rights organization disapproves Israel military statement on arson attack in West Bank.
In another video from the clashes, Israeli troops could be seen standing by and watching as settlers throw rocks at Palestinians.
According to B’Tselem, the Israeli military had granted “almost total immunity” to the settlers involved in the attacks with neither of them being interrogated or arrested.
The Israeli military refused to comment on why no settlers had been arrested.
Yitzhar settlers are notorious in the West Bank for extremist violence, and are frequently involved in violent attacks against Palestinians.
Israeli settlers vandalize Palestinian cars in West BankA group of Israeli settlers have vandalized several Palestinian-owned vehicles in East Jerusalem al-Quds.
More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank in 1967. This is while much of the international community considers the settler units illegal and subject to the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied land.