Yesh Din: Israel lets most Jews who harm Palestinians off hook

NGO Monitor critique says methodology flawed, ‘ideological crimes’ amorphous.

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January 8, 2018 03:16
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‘WE AT Yesh Din believe that the moral and proper thing to do today is to continue to urge and remind the government and the people of Israel that the occupation must end – and that millions of people denied civil rights for decades must be allowed to exercise their natural rights,’ writes the autho. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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A report issued Sunday by Yesh Din claims that law enforcement has allowed too many Jews who attacked Palestinians and their properties to go unpunished.

The NGO said only 21, or 11.4%, of 185 police investigations in Judea and Samaria into “ideological crimes” against Palestinians, which were completed from 2014 through August 2017, led to indictments.

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In contrast, the report said the overall indictment rate for all crimes investigated by police in Judea and Samaria from 2014 to 2016, including crimes against Palestinians, was a much higher 36.3%.

In other words, the report stated, Jews who committed “ideological crimes” against Palestinians were only recommended for indictment by the same police force one-third as often as suspects in general.

It also claimed that 118 of the files, or 64%, “were closed under circumstances indicating police investigative failure. The rate of investigative failure is higher in the total number of cases monitored by Yesh Din since 2005, standing at 82%.”

The report concluded by saying since 2005, only 3% of investigations of ideologically motivated crimes against Palestinians resulted in convictions.

The NGO defined “ideological crimes” as “acts of violence, theft and vandalism by Israelis in the West Bank [that] usually take place in areas where there is a concrete struggle over land.”



“Therefore,” the report said, “although the offenses are perpetrated by private individuals, the end result is systemic criminal activity meant to terrorize Palestinians and drive them off their lands, thus helping to expand Israeli control.”

It added, “The vast majority of the offenses monitored by Yesh Din can be characterized as crime motivated by an ideology of dispossession, dis-empowerment and settlement.”

“Data presented in this document, together with data and analysis published by Yesh Din in previous years, indicate a consistent failure by Israel to fulfill its obligation to protect Palestinians living under its control from harm by Israeli civilians in the West Bank.”

The report said there was a “staggering gap between the overall indictment rate in SJ [Judea and Samaria] District Police cases and the indictment rate in Yesh Din’s sample.” That, combined with “the gap between the overall Israel Police indictment rate and the indictment rate in Yesh Din’s sample indicate that this failure is not a coincidence but rather a manifestation of policy.”

Essentially, the NGO contended the statistics it presented showed a broad policy of going easy on Jews who commit “ideological crimes” against Palestinians.

The report noted that Palestinians are investigated and brought to trial within the Israeli military court system, whereas Jews living in the West Bank are handled by civilian courts.

The report added, “Palestinian victims of crimes perpetrated by Israelis often choose not to file a complaint with the Israel Police, in which case the offense is usually not investigated.”

The Israel Police responded by saying it “check[s] every complaint received by the police in a professional manner – all with the purpose of getting to the truth. Indictments are filed only after there is an evidentiary basis against a suspect” according to the high standard of proof that criminal investigations demand.

It said the police “are taking both overt and covert actions to prevent and thwart nationalistic crimes.... The Israel Police will continue to act with determination and on the basis of equality against” such crimes “without distinction to the identity or ethnicity of the offender.”

NGO Monitor attacked the methodology used in the Yesh Din report, saying it was biased and that its definition of “ideological crimes” was amorphous.

The group said, “The term ‘ideologically motivated crimes’ is commonly used to refer to cases of violent extremism,” such as white supremacism or terrorism, but that the report “fails to explicitly define how it uses the term and refers to crimes that would not fall under the definition commonly used by law enforcement agencies globally.”

Next, NGO Monitor said that in referring to “investigative failures,” Yesh Din “uses a term without a generally accepted definition to refer to all investigation files that did not end in an indictment, including files that have been closed due to ‘offender unknown,’ ‘insufficient evidence’ and ‘lack of criminal culpability.’”

Its critique further said, “Yesh Din points to no normative framework where this sole metric [investigation resulting in indictment] is used by any law enforcement agency to determine the sufficiency of the investigatory process... because none exists.”

In November, NGO Monitor put out a report that disputed Yesh Din’s use of statistics regarding indictments in the past. It said Justice Ministry statistics show that in 2015, indictments were issued against Jews accused of committing hate crimes against Palestinians 29.7% of the time, not the 7.3% figure cited by Yesh Din.

The same report said – even if Yesh Din’s statistics were correct – that Switzerland, Sweden and the Netherlands all had even lower or similar rates of indictment for hate crimes: 8.2%, 6.2% and 2.3% respectively.

The Jerusalem Post was unable by press time to identify the differences in the Yesh Din and NGO Monitor report methodologies regarding definitions of “ideological crimes” versus “hate crimes.”

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