Only 8.5% of investigation files into offences committed by settlers against Palestinians end in indictment

Figures based on monitoring of the investigations in 938 files opened by the various units of the Samaria & Judea District Police following complaints submitted by Palestinians with Yesh Din’s assistance, show that between 2005 and 2013 just 8.5 percent of investigation files ended in the indictment of Israelis suspected of harming Palestinians and their property. An examination of the circumstances surrounding the closure of the files by the S&J District Police shows that 84 percent of the files in which a final decision has been taken were closed due to police investigation failures. In the vast majority of cases, the investigators failed to locate the offenders or to collect sufficient evidence for prosecution.

The police investigations were opened following offenses of violence; damage to property; seizure of Palestinian land; and other offenses, including shooting, stone throwing, arson, the cutting down of trees, injury to livestock, theft of crops, construction on Palestinian-owned land, threats and harassment.

“Bring the Anatot criminals to justice” – On the 30th of September 2011, a group of Israeli peace activists was violently attacked by settlers from Anatot as they gathered at the settlement’s gate to protest an earlier attack. On the 11th of November, activists returned to the settlement to protest against settlers’ violence (Photo: Activestills)

The new figures are virtually identical to those reported in the past. Accordingly, the past year has not brought any improvement in the ability of the S&J District Police to investigate offenses by Israeli civilians against Palestinians and their property. The ongoing failure of the S&J District Police in this respect is due to systemic defects and flaws in the management of investigations, as reviewed in detail in Yesh Din’s report “A Semblance of Law” published in 2006. The report showed that over half the investigation files examined were marred by negligence, a lack of professionalism, a paucity of investigative actions, and failure to meet accepted standards for police investigations. Although these defects have been known for years, the new figures show that no meaningful action has been taken to correct the situation and improve the quality of investigations.

Noa Cohen of Yesh Din’s Research Department commented on the findings: “Despite numerous declarations of enhanced enforcement concerning attacks by Israelis on Palestinians, the figures show that in reality there has not been any change. Time after time the police fail to bring offenders to justice. The negligent investigations and low indictment rate send a clear message to offenders that the State has no interest in forcing them to end their actions. Anyone who is familiar with the situation in the Territories recognizes that Israel has abandoned its obligation to protect the Palestinian population. This is reflected in the acts and omissions of all the agencies of the State, and particularly the Police and the IDF.”