Every year, Yesh Din publishes up-to-date figures on military law enforcement against Israeli soldiers suspected of harming Palestinians and their property in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The information is based on data provided to Yesh Din by the Israeli military in response to applications made pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, as well as multi-year monitoring of military law enforcement within the military.
This data sheet provides a summary of a five-year period (2017-2021), demonstrating that military law enforcement authorities systematically avoid investigating and prosecuting soldiers who harm Palestinians. The Israeli military is failing to uphold its duty to provide Palestinian residents with protection against offenses committed by Israeli soldiers and commanders under the auspices of Israel’s ongoing occupation and as an inevitable outcome of it.
Despite the large number of complaints regarding harm to Palestinians at the hands of soldiers each year, investigations are opened in a minority of the cases, and the number of indictments filed against the implicated soldiers is minuscule. Finally, even in the rare cases in which soldiers are convicted of offenses against Palestinians, the military courts hand down extremely lenient sentences. All of this speaks to a reluctance on the part of the military law enforcement system to take appropriate action concerning crimes committed by soldiers against Palestinians.
According to the military’s figures, from 2017 to 2021, its law enforcement system was made aware of a total of 1,260 cases of alleged offenses by Israeli soldiers against Palestinians. A total of 248 criminal investigations were opened – about a fifth of known cases in those years. Only 11 investigations culminated in indictments filed against soldiers for offenses against Palestinians. Only three of these were incidents involving the killing of Palestinians. In other words, soldiers were prosecuted in only 0.87% of the total number of complaints against them.
The figures for 2017-2021 demonstrate the military law enforcement system’s complete disregard for Palestinians’ lives. Its conduct precludes any possibility of deterrence and encourages the continued use of the deadly trigger-happy policy that has claimed so many Palestinian lives. It seems as though the military law enforcement system’s main function is whitewashing crimes committed against Palestinians by Israeli soldiers.