Israeli settlers from the Givat Ronen outpost hurl stones at Palestinian protesters (unseen) during clashes in the West Bank village of Burin on April 15, 2014. New figures show 95 percent of reported Israeli attacks against Palestinians bring no charges. Photo by Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP/GETTY
In 2015, only four out of 89 cases brought indictments against suspects of violence.
By Jack Moore, Newsweek
March 14, 2017
More than 95 percent of reported attacks by Israelis against Palestinians bring no charges, new figures show, highlighting how Israeli Jewish suspects are less likely to be indicted if the victim is Palestinian.
According to 2015 police figures released in a request by Israeli left-wing NGO Yesh Din, which provides Palestinians with legal assistance, authorities opened 280 cases in connection with ideologically motivated crimes by Israeli settlers in the West Bank.
Of these, 89 dealt specifically with Israeli civilian violence against Palestinians, with only four of these leading to indictments, representing 4.5 percent of cases opened.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the figures released by Yesh Din were “inaccurate and misleading as far as we are concerned,” without elaborating. Yesh Din was not immediately available for comment.
Israeli NGOs such as B’Tselem say that Israel operates a dual justice system in the West Bank, governing Palestinians under military law, while treating Israelis under its civilian law. But Rosenfeld says West Bank Palestinians choose not to engage with the Israeli police.
“A complaint can be made by Palestinians to Israeli police, the issue being that a lot of Palestinians decide not to file any complaints whatsoever on any subjects to the Israeli national [police],” he says.
In comparison, the other 191 cases opened about Israeli civilian crimes in the West Bank resulted in police bringing charges in 55 cases, or 29 percent of the cases. Such crimes included trespassing, infractions against Israeli security forces and public disturbances, Haaretz reported.
Since 2013, Yesh Din has recorded 289 cases opened of Israeli civilian violence against Palestinians but only 20 resulted in a prosecution—just eight percent of all cases—while police have closed 225 files altogether. The NGO says the police had opened a unit to better deal with the handling of West Bank crimes, but it has been ineffective as indictments have remained the same.
NGOs say the reason for low levels of indictments is that, when the victim is Palestinian, the state does not thoroughly pursue its investigations and is largely unwilling to convict Israeli suspects. And the problem is getting worse, according to the new figures.
Between 2005 and 2014, Yesh Din looked at 1,000 Palestinian complaints of Israeli violence in the West Bank, in a report published in May 2015.
It showed that 91 percent of cases were closed without indictment, four percent lower than 2015’s rate of prosecution, a year that included the Jewish settler firebombing of the Dawabsha family home in the West Bank, an attack that killed 18-month old Ali Dawabsha, as well as his mother and father.
Police data for 2015 shows that only 4 out of 89 cases yielded indictments. New unit focused on Jewish political crimes did not make improvement.
By Yotam Berger, Haaretz premium
March 13, 2017
Information released by police in response to a request by the left-wing non-profit group Yesh Din shows that there are difficulties in indicting Jews for violations committed against Palestinians, in comparison to the indictment of Jews who have committed ideologically motivated crimes against the police or the public.
The information released by police shows that in 2015, 280 files were opened in connection with politically or ideologically motivated crimes committed by Israelis in the occupied territories. Eighty-nine of these dealt with violence against Palestinians or their property. Only four of these cases led to indictments, amounting to 4.5 percent of the files opened.
The other 191 files dealt with violations against security forces, public disturbances, criminal trespassing, obstructing a public official and similar offences. In these cases there were 55 indictments, amounting to almost 29 percent of files that were opened.
The group claims that these differences are largely a result of political ideology.
Yesh Din has accompanied 289 cases since 2013, dealing with alleged politically-motivated attacks by Israelis against Palestinians or their property. Of these, only 20 investigations led to prosecution, amounting to 8.2 percent of the cases in which a decision was made either way. Another 225 files were closed and some are still under investigation.
Yesh Din claims that the establishment in 2013 of a department dealing with politically motivated crimes in the Judea and Samaria police district did not improve the effectiveness of investigating such crimes. The department was set up with the intent of solving such crimes more efficiently. So far, at least as far as the files Yesh Din is following, there has been no increase in the number of prosecutions. Before the department was opened there was a prosecution rate of 8.5 percent, almost identical to the rate of indictments since the department was established. There was no data on other files but the data analyzed by Yesh Din shows the trend.
Report’s author: Political leaders ultimately to blame
Miryam Wijler, the information coordinator at Yesh Din who compiled the report, says,
“It’s not just the policemen on the ground, it’s presumably the policy dictated from above. I look at the numbers – it was 8 percent before and it remains 8 percent. The reality is that there has been no change. Where does this come from? I look mainly at the political echelons. The miserable results of this department after four years raise concerns that its opening was only performed for appearance’s sake and was not meant to truly address ideologically-motivated crime against Palestinians in the West Bank.”
Retired police Maj. Gen. Arieh Amit, who commanded the police’s Jerusalem District, said after hearing the numbers from Haaretz:
“It’s not very politically correct to say so, but police treatment of Jews and Arabs is not equal, as is the case for veteran Israelis versus new immigrants or Ethiopian Jews, Bedouin of foreign workers. A policeman has to be very objective. That’s his job, but we’re talking about human beings. ”
Amit however does not see the issue as one stemming from a calculated lack of police activity, but rather echoes Wijler’s assessment; in his opinion the situation is the result of antagonistic political rhetoric.
“I put the blame on Israel’s leaders. When the prime minister looks into the camera and declares that ‘the Arabs are streaming to the voting booths in droves,’ he turns himself into someone who treats Arab citizens as a dangerous enemy. This is leadership that everyone looks up to, whether it’s good or bad. These things trickle downwards. It is clear that the attitude of investigators towards a Jewish suspect who commits a crime against Arabs is not the same as towards an Arab who commits a crime against a Jew.”
Amit agrees though that in practice the investigation of violence against security forces is easier than investigating violence against a Palestinian. He stresses the difficulties of establishing good intelligence sources among right-wing activists. “One can’t ignore the fact that it’s much harder to catch criminals among the hilltop youth than among Arabs or Palestinians in their villages. The Jewish ones get serious briefings on how to contend with interrogations” he adds.
The Israel Police said they enforce the law with equality and without bias. Any expression of violence from any side is met with firm and uncompromising enforcement, whose purpose is to preserve order and the rule of law.
The police said that “presenting the data this way distorts reality because it does not take into account regular operations to prevent such actions. These actions have borne fruit in recent years, and the evidence is the significant drop crimes of violence in Judea and Samaria, and in the past year important cases have been solved that have led to dozens of indictments in this area.”