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Haaretz: “90% of Palestinian complaints to police ‘unsolved’ “

by Avi Issacharoff, from Ha’aretz, 11th September 2006. Followed by a collection of links to ISM reports on complaints to the Israeli police from which nothing has come.

A total of 90 percent of the complaints filed by Palestinians in the West Bank against Israeli citizens for violent attacks have been closed without charges being filed, according to a report prepared by the human rights organization Yesh Din, which will be made public Monday.

The organization is staffed by volunteers, who focus on the way law is enforced vis-a-vis Israelis in the West Bank, describes the police handling of the complaints as negligent, careless, unprofessional and disrespectful.

During the first 11 months of 2005, a total of 299 police investigations into Palestinian complaints of Israeli violence against them were initiated, according to the Yesh Din report. Data for the total number for 2006 are not included in the report.

The report is based on a sample study of 92 cases, filed with police during both 2005 and 2006. A third of these complain of assault – battery, use of firearms and other weapons, stone throwing – however the report concludes that 80 percent of these cases were closed without any charges being filed against the suspects.

In response, the Judea and Samaria Police said that “the data was passed on to the responsible authorities.”

On the basis of the sample study, it turns out that 90 percent of the cases were closed without charges being brought against anyone. In 83 percent of the cases, the reason was that the suspect could not be found or there was insufficient evidence.

In 7 percent of the cases, the cause was that the forms on which the complaints had been filed were lost – which meant that it was impossible to investigate the case.

A total of 96 percent of the cases, having to do with trespassing – including damage to olive groves – were closed without bringing charges against suspects. All cases involving property damage were closed without charges.

Yesh Din says that Palestinians are sometimes prevented from filing complaints against settlers who damage their property by the unwillingness of police officers to take down their testimony or because they are asked to present documents that they do not have.

According to a closer study of a sample of 42 cases, the following problems emerged in the police treatment of the plaintiffs: Their testimonies were not taken in Arabic; in few instances did the investigators agree to visit the site of the alleged crime; evidence from the crime scene was collected unprofessionally; testimonies of key witnesses were not taken; in almost all cases, no line-ups of Israeli suspects were held; in all 42 cases the police failed to check the suspects’ alibis.

The report points to fundamental problems in the way the Judea and Samaria Police is structured. While it is responsible for the largest police district in the country, it only has 6 percent of the police force at its disposal and receives a mere 2.5 percent of the overall police budget.

In addition, the number of patrol cars available is very limited, and the policemen can only leave their stations to collect evidence if they are accompanied by an IDF patrol.

The report also points to failings in the way the IDF has handled Palestinian complaints. Unlike the police, the IDF is neither limited in manpower nor budgets.

However, the soldiers have not received any instructions on their role in protecting Palestinian civilians from Israeli attackers, even though the IDF claims the contrary. In practice, a great deal of confusion exists.


The “Justice” of Occupation

by ISM Media group

This report published in Ha’aretz merely confirms what Palestinians have known for years about the Occupation ‘justice’ system, namely that the complaints process is a figleaf for the unaccountable brutality of Occupation. Palestinians are well aware that their complaints of attacks by settlers or the Israeli military are unlikely to be taken seriously. In practice most Palestinians won’t even complain to the Israeli police about all but the most serious attacks for fear of reprecussions from Israeli colonists or soldiers. In the few cases where convictions are secured, sentences for even the most serious crimes like murder are derisory.

The following is a list of examples from ISM eye-witness reports.

Muhammed Abu Solayby from Beit Ummar village made 8 complaints to the police about settlers destroying his orchards and vines but none of these were taken seriously. Even when internationals witnessed and videoed this destruction taking place, the police refused to act.

International human rights workers (HRW) have first-hand experience of this culture of impunity. When two internationals were attacked by masked settlers in Susya near Hebron this summer whilst armed settler guards watched, a complaint was filed with the police. The police promised to investigate and quickly confirmed that they knew the identity of some of those participating. To date, however, no action has been taken against the attackers.

HRWs in the Tel Rumeida district of Hebron are frequently attacked by settlers and do make complaints to the police. None of these has led, however, to any prosecutions of the settlers involved, even where the attacks are recorded on video. Sometimes settlers who assault HRWs will claim they were attacked and the HRW will be detained: