The Judea and Samaria Police manages to screw up investigations of attacks on Israeli human rights activists, not just Palestinians
Some six months ago, on June 25th, 2013, three Yesh Din personnel – activity coordinator Yudit Avidor and two volunteers – went to document the continued illegal construction in the vehemently illegal outpost Havat Gilad; this documentation was intended for an upcoming High Court of Justice hearing. Soon after they reached the place, the Yesh Din representatives were attacked by three goons who had come from Havat Gilad on motorcycles. The attackers blocked the path of our vehicle, threatened the passengers, physically assaulted them, broke one of its windows, damaged the car, and for good measure stole the vehicle’s toolbox.
As we are committed to the nice legal fiction according to which the Judea and Samaria Police (SJPD) is vigilant in enforcing the law, we were quick to lodge a complaint. In the beginning of November 2013, the SJPD informed us that it had closed the case, citing its favorite grounds, “unknown perpetrator.”
This raised a few eyebrows. The Yesh Din representatives had supplied the SJPD with a rather accurate description of the attackers. One of our volunteers said in his testimony that it’s possible the attackers, who stole the car’s toolbox, may have left fingerprints on the only screwdriver left in the car; after all, the attackers had not worn gloves.
Avidor, who was asked to peruse the police’s album of known perhaps after stating that she had a very clear recollection of one of the attackers, identified a suspect, a guy named Y. Avidor further told the interrogators that she was willing to attend a police-arranged confrontation with him.
The police leisurely summoned Y., who was interrogated finally on October 16th, 2013, making it clear that the interrogators didn’t really want to do their job. In his testimony, Y. – who is a student who works in Havat Gilad as a handyman – contradicted himself. At first he did not remember where he was on the day of the incident, and then said he was certain that he wasn’t in Havat Gilad. The investigators didn’t bother to check his alibi, nor did they search his dwelling, conduct a lineup, hold a confrontation between Avidor and Y., or ask the two other eye-witnesses/ vitcims? /complainants? to participate in a lineup, or even to look at their picture album; the police didn’t even bother to see if there were any fingerprints on the screwdriver given to them.
And why would they? Y.’s interrogator added a memo to Y.’s faux interrogation, stating as follows: “It should be noted that after a conversation with him, the guy is not connected to the residents of Havat Gilad and also doesn’t look like one of them, he is an engineering and management student, third year, and when I asked why he didn’t show up for interrogation following the message left on his phone by Investigator Yehudit, he replied that he was in India for two months recently, and therefore was not available at all.” My emphasis.
Well, if to begin with he doesn’t look like one of the Havat Gilad people, what is there to investigate?
In an appeal sent by our lawyers, Adv. Anu Lusky and Adv. Noa Amrami, demanded not only the complete investigation of the case, but also the indictment of Y. – noting that the evidence against him is sufficient to indict him. We’ll keep you posted, assuming there is any news.
But I’m not holding my breath. The SJPD has a long history of slowly killing investigations of incidents of Palestinians falling victim to settler attacks, even when the police capture the attackers red-handed. There’s no good reason to think this case will be different.