Yesh Din today published a data sheet with updated information regarding law enforcement on Israeli civilians who harm Palestinians and their property in the West Bank. The data shows that 85% of investigations are closed without any results due to circumstances reflecting police’s failure to investigate properly and effectively.
Over the past decade, Yesh Din has monitored police investigations in 1,104 investigation files opened following complaints filed by Palestinians regarding offenses perpetrated by Israeli civilians against them or their property. Most of the documented offenses are violent offenses such as beating and stone throwing, and property offenses such as damaging olive trees, arson, damage to farming machinery or tools, and theft.
Of the 1,026 investigation files concluded by investigation and prosecution bodies, 940 (91.6%) were closed without an indictment served; in a mere 75 cases (7.3%) of all cases opened so far, an indictment was served. A glaring conclusion from the data is that police’s repeated failures contribute to perpetrators’ growing boldness to commit offenses inside Palestinian communities, in homes or yards.
Ideologically motivated offenses carried out inside Palestinian communities vastly affect victims of such attacks. They threaten the sense of personal security, not only for victims of such attacks, but also neighbors and relatives who experience a sense of helplessness. The increase in such offenses also point to the SJ District Police and other law enforcement agencies’ complete lack of deterrence. A renowned example is the torching of the Dawabshe family’s home in Duma on 31 July, 2015, in which an 18 month-old toddler was murdered and his parents later died of their injuries in hospital.
Damage to olive trees
Since 2005, Yesh Din has documented 260 cases of damage to olive and other fruit trees owned by Palestinian residents of the West Bank that have led to SJ District Police investigations. And yet, indictments were served in just six cases. 95% of the cases were closed due to police investigation failures. This is the highest failure rate for investigations of ideologically-motivated crimes.
Most incidents involving vandalism of trees take place in friction areas familiar to Israeli law enforcement agencies. The main friction areas are the Shilo Valley north of Ramallah, the area of the settlement of Yitzhar near Nablus, and in the South Hebron Hills. The datasheet includes a map that provides graphic demonstration of the volume of offenses in friction areas.
During this year’s harvest, violent attacks and damage to olive trees have already been documented in the known friction areas. Victims of such attacks include Rabbi Arik Ascherman of Rabbis for Human Rights, who was attacked by a masked Jewish man near the settlement of Itamar; and a British national and two Palestinians wounded in an attack on their person while they worked on their land on the outskirts of the village of Burin, just by the settlement of Yitzhar.