HCJ 22/20, Yesh Din v. The Israel Police

January 1, 2020

Yesh Din petitioned the Israeli High Court of Justice, asking it to instruct the Israel Police to note the victim’s identity in investigation files involving suspected offenses in the West Bank. This is so that data may be produced regarding police treatment of complaints of offenses committed by Israelis against Palestinians in the West Bank.

Yesh Din’s long-term monitoring points to ongoing, systematic failure to enforce the law upon Israeli civilians – settlers and others – who harm Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Despite this, information provided by the Israel police shows that in recent years the police has not collected data on investigation files opened by the Samaria and Judea Police (responsible for the West Bank) in a manner that enables complaints concerning Israelis who harm Palestinians to be distinguished from other offenses committed by Israelis in the West Bank, such as offenses directed against Israeli army or police personnel.

Because of this policy, it is impossible to monitor the outcome of complaints filed by Palestinians who were harmed by Israelis in the West Bank. It precludes the possibility of applying external scrutiny to the performance of law enforcement mechanisms in addressing these complaints. Such scrutiny is crucial for assessing the degree to which Israel complies with its obligation to protect Palestinians living under its military control according to international law. Also, the work of law enforcement agencies must be subject to methodological review, including by collecting statistical information. This is fundamental for law enforcement to be effective.

The results of investigations into allegations of harm to Palestinians differ greatly from results of investigations into other alleged offenses committed by Israeli citizens in the West Bank. In 2015, the Israel Police collected data regarding investigation files concerning offenses ideologically motivated offenses committed by Israelis in the West Bank, segmented by the victims’ identity. The data provided to Yesh Din show that in 29% of the cases concerning offenses not directed against Palestinians, indictments were served during that same year. In contrast, indictments were served in just 4% of the cases in which the victim of the offense was a Palestinian (for detailed information, please see Data Sheet, February 2017). Therefore, when the victim of the offense was Palestinian, an indictment was six times less likely to be served. During the following years, the police ceased to collect such data.

Categorizing investigation files according to the victim’s identity is a very simple undertaking. A police officer opening an investigation file in the police information system knows who the victim of the offense is. Officers must input details regarding the case (including the complainant’s ID number) and could add the victim’s identity to the rest of the data. The petition argues that given the significance of this information and how simple it is to collect, the police is obligated to include the victim’s identity in investigation files opened by the Samaria and Judea Police.

Only after Yesh Din petitioned the court did the police announce that “the police is capable of segmenting data by victim of offense who is Palestinian”. This announcement came after three years during which Yesh Din’s efforts to receive data segmented according to this criterion were repeatedly denied. The petition was deleted following the state’s announcement and after segmented data was provided to Yesh Din.

Petition status: deleted