Palestinian victims of crimes committed by Israeli citizens often refrain from filing a police report. In 2003, Yesh Din began documenting cases where Palestinian victims decided not to file a complaint with the police. Out of the 413 cases of ideological violence that were documented by Yesh Din between 2013 and 2015, 30% of the victims clearly stated their unwillingness to file a complaint with the Israeli police. Details regarding this phenomenon is shown in the 2016 datasheet published by Yesh Din; specific facts and figures are presented as well as the organization’s recommendations for improving the quality and effectiveness of police investigation and eventually prosecuting the offenders.
The trend of having a relatively high rate of Palestinian victim who are unwilling to file a police complaint extends over a number of years. Between January 2018 and March 2021, Yesh Din documented 416 cases of ideologically-motivated violence; 43% of the victims of these incidents clearly stated an unwillingness to file a complaint with the Israeli police.
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There are various reasons behind this reluctance to file a complaint: 51% of the victims stated that their reluctance to file a complaint was due to a lack of faith in Israeli agencies; 21% stated that they fear filing a complaint because of payback violence against them and their families; 5% stated that they only want to file a complaint through the Palestinian agencies due to an ideological opposition to cooperating with Israeli agencies; 1% gave up on filing a complaint due to Israeli bureaucracy; the rest didn’t file a complaint for unknown reasons.
The fact that Palestinian victims are very often reluctant to file a complaint has been well-known to Israeli law enforcement agencies for years. This was mentioned in each of the three official Israeli reports that looked into law enforcement in the West Bank – The Krepp report (1982), the Schamgar report regarding the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre (1994), and the Sasson report (2005).
In reality, the Israeli police almost never opens an investigation on its own in the West Bank. As a result, when a Palestinian victim decides not to file a complaint with the Israeli law enforcement agencies the agencies become uninformed – or choose not to be informed – about the true situation in the West Bank. Hence, ideological offenses are often left unreported and uninvestigated, and there is no protection over the rights of Palestinians. It is Israel’s duty to counter this phenomenon and to strengthen law enforcement in the occupied territories.
Yesh Din’s Recommendations:
- To increase the accessibility for Palestinians in Israeli police stations and to improve the overall process of filing a complaint, including shortening waiting periods and accompanying the Palestinians to the station, and having Arabic-speakers on-site.
- To make sure (promise) that policemen and investigators treat the Palestinians with respect; complaints must be addressed coherently, witness accounts must be gathered, and any hardships in filing a complaint must be documented and tackled.
- To confirm that filing a complaint with the police will not affect entry permits to Israel. This specific fear was expressed by many Palestinians and law enforcement agencies, the Israeli police and the IDF, should make sure to correct this information and assure the Palestinians that filing a complaint will not hurt them. In case such fears are actually true, Israeli agencies must tackle this issue as it is a grave threat to law enforcement.