Upon the invitation of the UN Security Council, Yesh Din presented members of the Council with the organization’s data on law enforcement regarding ideologically motivated crime perpetrated by Israeli civilians against Palestinians, and the nd the consequences of lack of law enforcement has on the lives of Palestinian residents of the West Bank.
Yesh Din Legal Advisor, Adv. Michael Sfard, who spoke to the council on behalf of the organization, clarified in his speech, that both Palestinians and Israeli civilians fall victim to violence. When Israelis are the victims, Israeli law enforcement agencies usually apprehend the culprits swiftly, prosecute and severely punish them. Many times the Israeli agencies even manage to prevent these crimes in advance.
On the other hand, Yesh Din’s data shows that when the victims are Palestinians, law enforcement agencies are usually dysfunctional, and unable to solve crimes and prosecute offenders, which results in failure to produce deterrence and provide protection.
Yesh Din’s data indicates that 85% of the investigations opened into ideologically motivated crime against Palestinians (offenses that include physical violence, arson, damage to property, vandalization of trees and takeover of land) are closed due to police investigative failures. The figures also indicate that there is a mere 1.9% chance that a complaint filed by a Palestinian with the Israel Police will result in the conviction of the perpetrator/s.
Adv. Sfard explained to members of the council that most of the offenses documented by Yesh Din are perpetrated on Palestinian farmland in Area C and are intended to terrorize Palestinian farmers and landowners, dispossess them and ultimately displace them. Without punishment and deterrence, offenders know they will not be penalized for their actions and conclude that Israel allows them, perhaps even encourages them, to continue unabated.
Yesh Din’s position is that there is a direct link between the failure of the agencies charged with enforcing the law and protecting Palestinians and their property, the dispossession of Palestinians of their land and the expansion of land under the control of the settlement enterprise.
Another expression of lack of law enforcement in the West Bank and the seal of approval given to ideological crime against Palestinians is the shift over the past few years in Israel’s policy on unauthorized outposts. Adv. Sfard told members of the council that the current position of the Israeli government favors retroactively approving unauthorized outposts and turning them into settlements, which are considered legal under Israeli law. This position is reflected on the ground: Of 100 unauthorized outposts in the West Bank, about a third (32) have been retroactively authorized or are undergoing the authorization process.
The institutionalization of land grab and dispossession increases the impression that Israel is working toward pushing Palestinians out of Area C, where the settlements and outposts are located, and reducing their presence there, which in turn, increases concern that the ultimate purpose of this dispossession is to facilitate the official annexation of Area C to Israel.
Listen to Adv. Sfard’s speech before the Council.