fire in Judea and Samaria (archive)
fire in Judea and Samaria (archive)צילום: שומר יוש

Two well-known B'Tselem activists, Imad Abu Shamsiyya and Araf Jaber, were arrested last week on suspicion of setting a fire near the community of Kiryat Arba. The investigation is being conducted by the security forces.

According to a report by Channel 12 News, Abu Shamsiyya, one of the suspects, is known as the photographer for the B'Tselem organization that documented the Elor Azariya shooting. According to the organization, the area that the two set on fire is owned by Araf Jaber - but the IDF has not yet confirmed this claim and says that it will be examined as part of the investigation.

The "Im Tirtzu" organization claimed that the burned hill is actually located on state land, and that the two activists set it on fire in order to prepare the area for Palestinian Arab agriculture.

"This is not the first time that activists in anti-Zionist propaganda organizations working under the funding of foreign governments and the New Israel Foundation have been linked to acts of terrorism," said Matan Peleg, the movement's chairman. "As far as the terrorists and seekers of Israel 's destruction are concerned, these activities are different in nature but serve the same purpose. Sometimes it is found that these are the same people. The Israeli government must act immediately to reduce the funding of foreign governments for delegitimization organizations operating in Israel."

Eliyahu Libman, head of the Kiryat Arba Hebron Council, said in response that "there are those who cultivate this land, and flower the wilderness in it through proper education, expanding construction for young couples, assisting the elderly and there are those who despise this land, burn it, plot against it, and want to turn the flowering into a barren wilderness. It's good that their real face is revealed."

An IDF spokesperson said: "The suspects were arrested and questioned on suspicion of arson, after being identified as setting a fire in an open area. At the end of the investigation, the findings will be submitted for examination by the military prosecutor's office."

B'Tselem said in response: "The fact is that Israeli security forces arrested Palestinians cultivating their land - the plot in question belongs to Mr. Jaber - testifies more to the apartheid regime than to its victims. B'Tselem's video project also seeks to document this reality of such harassment And the expropriation of Palestinians from their land."