Report notes that ‘the slow pace of the military law enforcement system’ means that more investigations were liable to be opened and indictments issued.
Of the 240 complaints regarding possible crimes committed by Israel Defense Forces soldiers against Palestinians filed with the Military Police in 2012, only 78 investigations were launched and not a single indictment was served, a report by the Yesh Din human rights group has revealed.
The authors, who based their report on data supplied by the IDF Spokesman’s Office, noted however that “the slow pace of the military law enforcement system” means that more investigations were liable to be opened and indictments issued. To that regard, the report points out that 25 investigations were launched in 2012 based on complaints filed in 2011.
The report also cites an indictment filed in November 2011 over an investigation that was launched in 2010. In that case, a military policeman was convicted of abuse and improper conduct for kicking a Palestinian prisoner in a military lockup. The ruling in that case was the only one handed down in 2012.
The report notes a slight decline in the number of complaints filed, compared to the 252 submitted in 2011, but also points to a marked drop in the number of investigations and emphasizes the lack of indictments.
In 2011, 153 investigations were launched yielding two indictments (1.3 percent of the investigations) and in 2010 there were 145 investigations, leading to four indictments (2.75 percent).
Most of the complaints were received from the military prosecutor (90), the Israel Police (45) and from human rights groups, with only six complaints filed by Palestinians to the Military Police on their own behalf. Yesh Din notes that the absence of a Military Police base in the West Bank as the reason that Palestinians who feel they have been mistreated by soldiers need to use an intermediary to file their complaints.
Of the 103 investigations launched in 2012, most involved violence or incidents in which Palestinians were wounded (55 cases, or 53 percent of the cases). This represents a drop compared to previous years, where such cases constituted about 12 percent of the total. There was also a 60 percent fewer investigations into property damage complaints: In 2012 only five probes were launched for destruction of property and one was opened for looting.
At the same time, there was a 60 percent increase in the number of investigations into deaths of Palestinians, with 15 such files opened – six for incidents in the West Bank and nine in Gaza. The reason for this could be that the Military Prosecution has instructed the Military Police to investigate every death involving soldiers in the West Bank. Sixteen more investigations were launched into what the IDF terms “improper conduct.”
The IDF Spokesman said in response to the report: “It should be clear that not all the investigations opened in 2012 have been completed. From here one can see that the statistic presented is tendentious.
“Complaints about the behavior of IDF soldiers in Judea and Samaria and the Gaza area are evaluated by the Military Police and the Military Prosecution in accordance with the policy set by the military advocate-general, which was approved in an explicit ruling of the Supreme Court. In instances where there’s suspicion that a crime was committed, a Military Police probe is opened, which is overseen by experienced investigative officers and at times legal experts from the Military Prosecution. Every decision regarding a case being investigated, whether it’s to indict, take disciplinary action or close the case, is made on an individual basis, and certainly no account is taken of any sort of statistical data.
“It’s important to stress that every decision made by the military authorities can be challenged in the High Court of Justice. Many groups, including Yesh Din, have done this more than once, and in the overwhelming number of cases the High Court found no reason to intervene in the decision made. Naturally, a report presenting statistical data on decisions made in criminal cases cannot reflect the quality and character of the decisions made in each individual case.”