<p> Israeli soldiers watch as settlers near Ma'on settlement carry sticks and threaten Palestinian, Israeli and international activists marching together with residents of local Palestinian villages during a solidarity march in the South Hebron Hills, West Bank, September 22, 2012.</p>

Settler Violence

Incidents of violence by Israeli civilians against Palestinians and their property are a daily occurrence throughout the West Bank. The Israeli public tends to think that this ideologically motivated violence is perpetrated by a handful of extremists who commit what are known as “price tag” actions, purportedly retaliation against any action they perceive as being directed against them. In reality, however, this is a widespread practice involving many Israeli citizens and includes acts of violence, damage to property, takeover of Palestinian land, and other offenses. Most violent offenses take place on Palestinian farmland or on the outskirts of Palestinian villages, and are part of a calculated strategy for dispossessing Palestinians of their land.

Israel is acting sovereign in the West Bank and therefore, under both Israeli and international law, must uphold the law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and protect Palestinian residents, who are considered protected persons under international law.

Instead, Israeli law enforcement authorities exhibit extreme incompetence in addressing this widespread practice of ideologically motivated offenses. Yesh Din’s data shows that the vast majority of investigation files regarding harm to Palestinians and their property are closed due to police failure to investigate properly. The deficiencies and flaws in the work of the police are present at every stage of the investigation, and police frequently fail to undertake basic investigative steps amounting at times to criminal negligence.

The state comptroller and official government reports have also addressed the ongoing failure to properly investigate and prosecute Israelis who commit ideologically motivated offenses against Palestinians.

Prosecution and imposing appropriate penalties are crucial for providing Palestinian residents with a sense of personal security and generating deterrence against continued violence perpetrated against them. Investigation failures and the leniency displayed by both prosecution agencies and the courts in cases of ideologically motivated crime encourage such violence against Palestinians.

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