Last week, Attorneys Assnat Bartor and Noa Amrami, of Yesh Din, submitted an unusual appeal. It refers not to one case, but to eight of them. The reason: in all of them, the Judea and Samaria District Police (JSDP) decided it didn’t feel like working and recommended the cases be closed since it couldn’t get the required paperwork from the Civil Administration.
The cases come from two batches of closed police investigation files. The first refers to the acts of R, a well-known individual from the settlement of Revava. The latter allowed himself to invade the land of two Palestinians, Aaref AlSufi and Aaisha Qassam, and carry out construction work there, including paving a road. In the first incident, which took place on March 20th, 2008, the police closed the case, citing “perpetrator unknown” – even though R admitted in his statement to the police that he had in fact committed the crime (!). Another reason cited by the police for closing the case is that it asked the Legal Advisor to the West Bank (Samaria and Judea Region) for his opinion regarding ownership of the land in question, and since it did not receive a reply, a decision was made to close the case.
Errr, what? I’m sorry? Run that by me again? A case is closed when it either reaches a dead end or is sent for prosecution. If no one replied to your letter, send another one. If you still get no answer, pick up the phone. Still no answer? Lay siege to the office of the Legal Advisor until he has no choice but to answer. What is the meaning of this negligence?
And this is the same decision made by the police in four other cases in which R or workers he hired were involved. The decision to close the cases was made despite agreement over the fact that the land invasion carried out by R had been illegal; even though the Custodian of Absentee and Government Property in the West Bank ruled that the uprooting of olive trees on Qassam’s land had been a result of construction work carried out by R; and in spite of the fact that construction without a permit is a crime regardless of the identity of the land’s owner. Nonetheless, the police closed the cases because it did not get the information it asked for from the Legal Advisor.
The second batch of cases comes from one the most famous illegal outposts, Havat Gilad. Two of the complaints had been filed after settlers in the outpost placed mobile houses on land belonging to Ibrahim Ghanem and Ghanem Abu Adida. These complaints were closed by the SJDP, once more, because it did not receive the information it had asked the Legal Advisor for. In this case, though, the police did work some wonders – even by the rather low standards of the SJDP.
On 15th July, 2010, Attorney Superintendent Gil Deshe recommended to our attorneys that “the issue be treated in the civil courts and by administrative process vis-à-vis the Civil Administration and the Legal Advisor” of the Samaria and Judea Region. He said that he saw no need in keeping the criminal cases open. That is, the legal representative of the police reached the conclusion that there is no point in bothering the SJDP with reports about criminal activities.
Enough with your whining. A criminal trespassed onto your land? Put a mobile house on it? Cut off your trees and paved a road in their place? Kindly go to your treasure vault, hire a lawyer, and file a civil suit against the felon with your hard-earned money and, please, stop wasting the police’s time. It has better things to do than serve the public.
It should be noted that the State Comptroller found, in a report published in the summer of 2013 (Hebrew.pdf file) that the police routinely refuses to deal with construction offenses in the West Bank, making the fascinating claim that in Israel, the treatment of such offenses is handled by the local municipality and the Ministry of Interior. That is, forty-plus years after it was invited by the IDF to operate in the West Bank, the police is still unclear about its status.
Is the meaning of Superintendent Deshe’s recommendation that there is no longer any need for the SJDP, and that it may be dismantled? One assumes this is not what he meant. But when the emblem of the SJDP is negligence at best and turning a blind eye at worst, perhaps we should give serious consideration to the idea. After all, it’s not like you can see the difference with the naked eye.