Saturday, July 26, 2008

No Judge and No Law

There is an article in Haaretz today (in Hebrew) about the findings of the Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din ("There is Law"), that less than 10% of the complaints of Palestinians against West Bank settlers result in indictments. Most of the files are closed by the police for lack of evidence, because the perpetrators are unknown, etc.

Here is the blurb concerning the report from Yesh Din's website:

Yesh Din's monitoring of the handling of investigations into offenses committed by Israeli civilians against Palestinians in the West Bank exposes that the rate of failure of the Samaria and Judea (SJ) District Police investigations is at 90%.  This and other statistics are published in a data sheet which tracks 205 investigation files opened in recent years and which have been followed closely by Yesh Din. Out of the 205 investigations opened into offenses committed against Palestinians which Yesh Din is following, police processing and prosecutorial review have concluded in 163 files. Out of those 163, only in 13 (8%) of the cases were indictments filed against defendants. One case file was lost and never investigated, and 149 (91%) investigation files were closed without filing any indictments against suspects.


Additional findings in the data sheet show that out of the 149 investigation files that were closed, 91 were closed on grounds of "perpetrator unknown" (61%) and 43 cases were closed on grounds of "lack of evidence" (28%).


To read Yesh Din's Report, please click here. From its monitoring, it seems that the police "investigations" are the stuff of farce. On rare occasions, appeals have been successful. But one can only marvel at the amount of Sysiphisian labor performed by the tiny Yesh Din organization. They work so hard in the face of such adversity.

According to Haaretz, the response of the state's attorney in charge of law enforcement in these cases was to challenge Yesh Din's statistics – not 13 but 30 indictments resulted. That means 78%, rather than 92%, of the investigation files were closed without an indictment.

Whew, now I can sleep at night….

Of course, I don't believe the state's attorney. If you read Yesh Din's report, you will see that no official statistics are kept that track complaints of offenses against Palestinians; they are mixed with settler' offenses against the police. Yesh Din documents its cases; when they have requested the state's attorney's documentation, they have been stonewalled.

On the Wild West Bank, settlers move against Palestinians with impunity. Small wonder that most Palestinians don't even bother to report complaints to the police

It would be instructive to compare these statistics with those of settler complaints against Palestinians. Are those recorded anywhere?



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