In 2013, Yesh Din began systematically documenting incidents in which Palestinian crime victims chose not to file a complaint with the Israel police. According to Yesh Din’s records, out of 413 incidents of ideologically motivated offenses documented by the organization between 2013 and 2015, 30 percent of the victims explicitly specified that they were not interested in filing a complaint with the Israel Police.
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The fact that so many Palestinians refrain from filing a complaint with the police has been well known to the law enforcement authorities for years and is cited in every single one of the three formal Israeli reports that address law enforcement in the West Bank: The Karp Report, the Shamgar Commission’s Report on the massacre at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, and Talia Sasson’s Outpost Report.
The reasons that Palestinians are unwilling to file a complaint vary: most of the victims noted mistrust of the Israeli law enforcement authorities; others expressed concern that filing a complaint would endanger them or their family members; and there are those who told Yesh Din they would only complain via the Palestinian Authority, or that they ideologically opposed engaging with Israeli authorities.
The reality in the West Bank is that the police seldom instigate investigations. As such, as long as Palestinians refrain from filing complaints themselves, law enforcement authorities either are not aware or choose to ignore the situation. Thus, ideologically motivated crimes perpetrated by Israelis are not properly addressed, leaving Palestinians’ rights unprotected. It is Israel’s duty to deal with this problem by strengthening the law enforcement system in the OPT.
The attached data sheet details facts and figures collected by Yesh Din, as well as recommendations for introducing genuine improvement to the quality and efficacy of investigations, and bring offenders to justice:
1. Improve accessibility of police stations to Palestinian complainants and mitigate the complaint process as much as possible, including reducing wait times for escorts required to access stations and inside stations, increased availability of Arabic speaking investigators, including female investigators.
2. Ensure police investigators treat Palestinian complainants and witnesses with respect. This includes taking determined action with regard to complaints by Palestinians of difficulties or abusive behavior while filing complaints and giving statements to the police.
3. Take action to dispel the concerns expressed by many Palestinians over the years that filing a complaint with the police may result in the revocation of entry permits to Israel, or reduce the chances of obtaining such a permit in future. The police and the IDF must clarify in no uncertain terms that no sanctions are taken against Palestinians who file complaints with either the police or the Military Police Criminal Investigation Division. If there is any truth to such allegations, authorities must immediately desist from this grievous practice, which undermines the most fundamental principle of law enforcement.