Police investigation failure increases in ideological offenses against Palestinians despite new Nationalistic Crimes Unit in the Samaria & Judea District Police – many such crimes hit Palestinians at home

Imagine the following scenario: you’re in your courtyard, when a gang shows up, insulting you in what is supposed to be your safest place, beating in you in the presence of your children, stealing or destroying your belongings. Picking yourself up, you know there’s no point in calling the police – because in the vast majority of cases, the police won’t catch the offenders. Oh, by the way – the criminals are from a different ethnic group.

Do you think you could live this way? Because this is how many Palestinians in the West Bank have to live. We have just published our annual data sheet on law enforcement – or rather the lack of law enforcement – in the West Bank.

If you are a Palestinian and you’ve been attacked or otherwise harmed by Israeli civilians in the West Bank, there is little to no chance the police will solve the case. Yesh Din has been monitoring the police investigation cases of complaints filed by Palestinians against Israeli civilians since 2005. The unambiguous data show that of 1,045 cases we are monitoring, the police concluded its investigation of 970 cases. 72 indictments were made (about 7.4% of the cases), and the police managed to lose 11 file cases. 884 cases were concluded due to police investigation failure.

593 cases were closed as “perpetrator unknown”, meaning the police failed to identify a suspect. 195 cases were concluded because of “lack of sufficient evidence”, i.e. the police managed to suggest a suspect but lacked the evidence to indict the suspect. 76 cases were closed on the grounds of “absence of criminal culpability” – that is, police claims that no crime was committed; we appealed 25 of these cases, since the investigation was unfinished or we believed there was enough evidence for an indictment. Finally, 12 cases were closed due to “lack of public interest”.

In two cases, the police concluded the perpetrator could not be indicted, probably due to age (minors); and one case was closed because it fell under the jurisdiction of another agency. The police’s general failure rate in 2005-2014 is 85.2%. Ironically, it was in the two years (2013-2014) in which the Nationalist Crime Department was active that the rate of police failure actually rose to 89.6%. The police tells us it invests many more assets and efforts in fighting nationalist-based crimes; so far, it fails to demonstrate results.

And why do I speak of “people breaking into your courtyard”? Because settlers enter private Palestinian property in the West Bank time and again. In our files from 2013-2014 we emphasized the setting of the crimes. It turns out that 28.3% of the recorded incidents took place within Palestinian villages and towns. Most of the incidents still take place in the countryside near the villages – territories which are to be dispossessed – but more than a quarter of the incidents are invasions of towns and villages, places where the settlers have no reason to visit, uninvited.

And the Israeli police, including the new and much ballyhooed Nationalist Crime Department, doesn’t know – or, perhaps, knows but is unwilling – how to deal with Israelis who commit nationalist crimes. This failure is anything but new: back in 1982 the Karp Report warned that Palestinian residents in the West Bank do not trust the Israeli justice system, and that in many cases they avoid complaining to the police since it is pointless. The Karp Report further found that law enforcement in the West Bank failed – and was the first government report to note this failure.

This is Israeli law and order. This is how it has been maintained for over 30 years: an order of rulers and ruled, with a thin legal coating of “laws of occupation” which allows us to say all is well, since it is temporary. For the past 47 years.

Read the full data sheet

Map of locations of offenses against Palestinians in the West Bank