From 2005 until November 2018, Yesh Din assisted in filing 68 complaints following incidents of ideologically motivated offences in the city of Hebron in which Israeli civilians, mostly settlers from Hebron, harmed Palestinians or their property. It is important to note that Yesh Din does not document all incidents that take place in the city, but only those that are brought to its attention, some in which Yesh Din is asked to provide legal aid to the victims of criminal offenses.
Of the 68 complaints, 42 related to violent offenses including assault, battery, threats, stone-throwing and even shooting. The remaining complaints concerned damage to property, trespass, and invasion of farmland, among others.
Compared to overall figures for the West Bank, the incidence of violence in Hebron is particularly high: While violence accounts for 35% of the incidents documented by Yesh Din in the West Bank as a whole, 62% of the incidents documented in Hebron were violent offenses. The reason for this presumably lies in the unique circumstances in Hebron, where Jewish settlements were established in the heart of the city and settlers and Palestinians live in close proximity.
An analysis of Yesh Din data and information regarding incidents of violence and damage to property in Hebron, as well as the law enforcement system’s treatment of these offenses, reveals that the military fails to act to protect Hebron’s Palestinian residents from settler attacks and refrains from punishing soldiers who stand idly by during violent incidents despite having the obligation and authority to stop the assailants. Moreover, the entire law enforcement system – the police, prosecutorial bodies and the courts – fails to bring offenders to justice.
The responsibility for this state of affairs lies at the feet of Israeli governments, which have, throughout the years, shown leniency toward settler violence and neglected to intervene to eradicate it. The outcome is a sweeping failure by Israel to protect Palestinians from Israeli civilians who harm them and their property.