Yesh DinVolunteers for Human Rights
Criminal Accountability of Israeli Civilians
Acts of violence are being committed by Israeli civilians against Palestinians in the West Bank on a daily basis, manifesting in many forms of attacks against people and destruction of their property.
These acts of violence are not isolated incidents, not are they simply acts of hate or anger. Rather this brand of violence is part of a sophisticated, wider strategy designed to assert territorial domination over Palestinians in the West Bank.
According to international humanitarian law, as the occupying power in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), Israel is charged with ensuring the security and safety of the residents of the OPT. Israel has neglected this obligation for decades.'No go zones': In one manifestation of settler violence, Palestinians often face armed settlers in areas surrounding settlements and outposts, who create effective “no go zones” which often include private Palestinian land. This ensures that the land is virtually abandoned by its fearful owners.
'Price tag' campaign: In recent years, settlers have launched their “price tag” campaign against State, in which they retaliate during attempts to dismantle outposts by carrying out violent attacks on nearby Palestinian villages, forcing authorities to divert personnel to those areas.
The IDF and police are neither prepared nor willing to provide the necessary protection to Palestinians attacked by violent settlers. Law enforcement agencies display repeated failure to conduct proper investigations of these incidents. When convictions are made, Israeli citizens involved in such violent acts are handed light sentences.
The failure of law enforcement in the OPT has led many Palestinians to refrain from filing complaints when attacked. Those who do have little hope for redress. Importantly, the State’s ongoing failure to instate criminal accountability of violent settlers inadvertently empowers them and supports the continuation of their strategic brand of violence.
Yesh Din's approach
Yesh Din systemically confronts the neglect of law enforcement on violent settlers, both on the individual and institutional level.
On the individual level, Yesh Din works on an ongoing basis to protect the rights of Palestinian victims of violence. Yesh Din volunteers take testimonies of acts of violence to be used in the Israeli court systems, often accompanying victims of violence in filing complaints with Israeli authorities. The organization's legal team provides follow-up by interacting with local authorities on behalf of the victim, as well as filing legal actions through the local court system.
Yesh Din operates on the institutional level in order to advance a genuine reform in law enforcement procedures in the OPT and ensure that the State fulfills its obligation to defend the Palestinian residents of the occupied area. To spot and address patterns in failing law enforcement, Yesh Din’s research department monitors the organization’s database of cases, researching trends that emerge and highlighting them in current and comprehensive reports and datasheets which are distributed widely to the media as well as local and foreign policy makers.
Yesh Din's legal department then takes on principled cases which highlight and represent these wider trends through Israel’s higher courts, working to achieve precedent-setting rulings that will affect change in policy, and institute long-lasting and sustainable reform.
Frequently asked questions about law enforcement upon Israeli civilians