Between 2003 and 2012 the Military Police Criminal Investigations Division (MPCID) opened over 179 criminal investigations into incidents in which IDF soldiers were suspected of killing Palestinian civilians, yet only 16 of these investigation files led to an indictment. These figures are part of the data sheet published by Yesh Din on MPCID investigations and trials regarding cases that resulted in Palestinian deaths. According to B’Tselem figures, some 5,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) since the beginning of the Second Intifada in September 2000 and up until the middle of 2013.
The military’s problematic policy for opening criminal investigations, which became the norm from the start of the Second Intifada and until April 2011 (the subject is discussed in detail in the 2013 Turkel Commission report) resulted in the opening of very few MPCID investigations into cases involving the killing of Palestinians by IDF soldiers.
The figures published in the data sheet demonstrate that only a handful of investigations involving the death of Palestinians led to indictment. The number of instances since 2000 in which IDF soldiers were convicted for their direct involvement in the death of Palestinians in the OPT is miniscule.
During the said period, only 16 of the investigation files into incidents in which Palestinians were killed led to indictments, in which a total of 21 soldiers were charged with offenses relating to the death of 18 Palestinian civilians and one foreign national. Some of the defendants were charged with offenses concerning obstruction of justice rather than the incident itself. The court-martial ultimately convicted seven soldiers of offenses relating to the death of just six civilians: five Palestinians and one British citizen. Two more soldiers were convicted of offenses relating to attempts to obstruct justice in the framework of these proceedings.
The offenses for which the soldiers were charged and the penalties handed down by the court-martial reflect contempt for Palestinian life. Only one soldier was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to eight years imprisonment – and this was a case involving the death of a British citizen, not the death of a Palestinian. Four soldiers were each separately convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to periods of imprisonment of just a few months and in some cases, the sentence was suspended altogether.
In addition, two officers were each convicted of negligence following the death of a Palestinian infant after bullets were fired at the car in which he was traveling. One of the officers was sentenced to one month’s military labor and a four-month suspended sentence, and the other to 30 days’ imprisonment and a four-month suspended sentence.