In 2015, the MPCID opened 186 criminal investigations into alleged offenses committed by Israeli soldiers against Palestinians. Of these, 120 investigation files have been closed and 7 resulted in disciplinary measures. Over the course of the year, 15 indictments were served for harm caused to Palestinians, including for four incidents that took place in 2015.
The new datasheet indicates that the IDF fails to comply with its own official policy, which requires an investigation of every incident resulting in the death of Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, with the exception of incidents that are “clearly part of a combat situation”. According to B’Tselem figures, in 2015, 99 Palestinians were shot and killed by Israeli security forces in the West Bank (23 by border police officers and 76 by soldiers). Seventeen Palestinians were shot and killed in East Jerusalem. And yet, only 21 investigations were opened.
Many of the incidents involving Palestinian civilian fatalities in 2015 took place in the context of the violence that erupted in the West Bank in that year. IDF authorities decided that 55 of these incidents do not warrant an investigation, thus raising severe doubts regarding implementation of Israel’s declared policy of investigating deaths. By refraining from investigating, the Military Advocate General Corps, in fact, declares that shooting-to-kill is a legitimate response to these incidents and that it considers public disturbances (including grave ones) as practically indistinguishable from combat situations.
In addition, 101 investigation files, accounting for 54% of all investigations, were opened into incidents of injury or violence against Palestinians perpetrated by soldiers. A total of 49 files (26%) of all investigation files opened by the MPCID in 2015 concerned property offenses and looting committed by soldiers – 42 incidents in the West Bank and seven in the Gaza Strip. This is a relatively high incidence of looting and property offenses compared to previous years.
In 2015, the MPCID received just seven reports filed by the units of IDF soldiers who were suspected of committing offenses against Palestinians (out of 187 reports). In the preceding year, units filed only 15 reports. The military has multiple laws, orders and protocols stipulating that the MPCID must be informed of any incident where a breach of international law is suspected. These incidents include, among others, looting, abuse or unlawful shooting. The low rate of incidents reported to the MPCID by soldiers and commanders indicates that orders and protocols on the duty to report are not implemented.
The figures in the new data sheet demonstrate how IDF soldiers, their commanders and the military law enforcement agencies evade their duty by failing to investigate, or even report, grave incidents which involve harm to Palestinian civilians in the West Bank.