NGO: Police indict in only 10% of Palestinian complaints

Enforcement against Israelis accused of criminal offenses against Palestinians in the West Bank has not improved over the past two years, according to a study published on Tuesday by Yesh Din-Volunteers for Human Rights. Thirteen indictments were filed out of 163 complaints registered by Palestinians that were monitored by the organization in recent years, the report said. A study published by Yesh Din in 2006 showed the same ratio of complaints registered to indictments filed. Judea and Samaria Police District spokesman Danny Poleg rejected the figures presented by Yesh Din. Poleg said that in 2007, police had served 69 indictments out of the 323 complaints regarding which they had completed their investigation. Altogether, police opened 550 case files in 2007 dealing with complaints on a wide range of criminal acts including causing death, illegal use of a weapon and other kinds of assault, damage to property, criminal trespass, violation of an injunction and a category described as "other offenses." But Poleg said these complaints were not only lodged against Israelis by Palestinians, but included alleged criminal acts committed against the security forces and local and international left-wing activists by Israelis. According to Poleg, only 190 complaints were filed by Palestinians against Israelis in 2007. Yesh Din said its report was based on 205 complaints filed by Palestinians that it had been monitoring. However, it did not specify over how many years the complaints had been filed. According to Yesh Din, police have completed their investigation of 62 out of the 81 assault complaints they monitored. These complaints include shootings causing death and injury. Of the 62 completed investigations, 53 cases were closed and nine indictments were filed. Of those that did not lead to indictments, 29 were closed on grounds of "perpetrator unknown" and 23 for "lack of evidence." With regard to criminal trespass, Yesh Din monitored 79 complaints, including 64 in which the investigations were completed by the police. Of these, 59 files were closed, one file was lost and four led to indictments. Regarding complaints of property damage, including theft, arson, vandalizing agricultural equipment, police had closed 19 of the 22 files and are still working on the other three. Poleg said that of the 69 investigations of Israelis that led to indictments in 2007, 30 involved complaints lodged by Palestinians. Orit Struck, a spokeswoman for the Hebron Jewish community, dismissed the Yesh Din report as baseless, not because of the numbers it presented, but because of its conclusions. She said that every criminologist knows that a large discrepancy exists between the number of complaints filed and the indictments that police issue. The true interpretation of the report, she said, is that Palestinians and left-wing activists file a large number of false claims. She added that it had been shown that even when the indictments do make it to court, there is often not enough evidence for convictions.