In January 2020, Yesh Din published a data sheet on law enforcement vis-à-vis Israeli citizens, settlers and others, suspected of ideologically motivated crime against Palestinians in the West Bank. Monitoring of investigation files opened by the Samaria & Judea (SJ) District Police (the Israel Police district for the West Bank) from 2005 to 2019 shows that 91% of the files closed with no indictment filed. Indictments were filed in only 100 out of 1,200 investigation files.
The police fails to investigate ideologically motivated crime
The police has failed in the investigation of 82% of the files opened since 2005 and subsequently closed with known outcomes (1,020 out of 1,247). The high rate of failure points to a longstanding systemic failure in law enforcement on ideologically motivated crime against Palestinians in the West Bank.
A look at the reasons given for case closure reveals that 977 investigation files were closed on grounds of offender unknown or insufficient evidence, indicating the police found an offense had been committed, but failed to name suspects or consolidate enough evidence to prosecute. 35 files were closed on grounds of lack of criminal culpability. However, Yesh Din appealed their closure after examining the files and concluding that there was enough evidence that an offense had been committed or that the investigation had not been exhausted. Accordingly, these files are also considered to be indicative of investigative failure. In addition, eight files were lost by the Israel Police and never investigated. These files are also considered by Yesh Din to be files the police failed to investigate.
Police investigation outcomes following the establishment of the Nationalistic Crime Unit (2014-2019)
The Nationalistic Crime Unit of the SJ District Police was established in 2013 with the aim of improving responses to what the police defines as nationalistic crime. However, figures show that the establishment of the unit has not produced long-term improvement in the quality and outcomes of police investigations.
Of the investigations opened since 2014, 273 have been completed with a decision reached by the investigation and prosecution authorities: 91% of these cases were closed following an investigation with no indictment filed (248 of 273 files). Indictments were filed in only 9% of the files. A breakdown of the circumstances in which investigation files were closed indicates that 71% of investigations that concluded with known outcomes were closed in circumstances attesting to investigative failure (192 out of 270 files).
The figures also indicate that the percentage of files closed by the police in circumstances attesting to failure increased in 2017-2019. Only 4% of the investigations that concluded with known outcomes in those years resulted in an indictment and the rate of investigative failure was 77%. In 2018 alone, the rate of investigative failure reached 92%.
The picture that emerges from 15 years of monitoring how Israeli law enforcement agencies handle complaints from Palestinian victims of ideologically motivated crime by Israelis shows the State of Israel betrays its duty to protect Palestinians from those who would harm them and, in fact, leaves them to face assault and harassment defenseless.