IDF as an instrument of terror against civilian Palestinians

20 Dec

Human rights group, Yesh Din, has released a report revealing that 90% of criminal investigations of IDF soldiers (against Palestinians) closed without indictment. Another study done by the military itself revealed similar findings – 25% of soldiers at West Bank checkpoints “perpetrated or witnessed abuse of Palestinians.” The statistics from the military, according to human rights organisation, B’Tselem, “are shocking, but not surprising.” The NGO said soldiers who abused Palestinians are rarely taken to task as obstacles have been placed to prevent Palestinians from lodging complaints against them.

Highlights from the Yesh Din report:

  • According to B’Tselem, from the beginning of the second Intifada until September 30, 2007, 2,023 civilians who did not take part in the hostilities were killed in the Occupied Territories (OT). Another 603 Palestinians, of whom it was unsure if they participated in hostilities, were killed by IDF fire. Another 1,359 Palestinians who were engaged in hostilities were killed by the same security forces.
  • The Palestinian Red Crescent has treated more than 8,000 people injured by “live” ammunition from the beginning of the Intifada to the end of July this year.
  • Out of 1091 cases from September 2000 to June 2007 based on data from the Military Police Criminal Investigation Division (MPCID) , only 118 resulted in an indictment with 101 being convicted. The conviction rate is only 7%. The MPCID investigations are related to offenses on firing, acts of violence, causing damage to property and miscellaneous cases such as bribery and improper behavior towards Palestinians.
  • 61% of the investigations are violence and firing related with only 7.36% of these cases resulted in convictions.
  • Investigations opened for suspicion of hitting Palestinian civilians by gunfire had a 12.5% rate of success, in terms of leading to indictments. It should be noted that 29 of the aforementioned 30 indictments were filed before January 1, 2005. That means that for at least 2 ½ years, by June 2007, only one indictment was filed against IDF soldiers suspected of killing or wounding a Palestinian civilian who was not involved in the hostilities.

The Israeli army, in a statement to AFP, rebutted some of the statistics, claiming that it had opened 272 investigation cases (as opposed to 239 in the report) when security personnel could have opened fire unlawfully, leading to 31 indictments and 17 convictions (30 indictments and 16 convictions in the report). They also argued that damages against civilians “in a state of war” does not necessarily constitute an illegal offense and that it is difficult to carry out criminal investigations in Palestine, especially in Gaza.

Based on Yesh Din and military findings , it would not be far-fetched to assume:

  1. With 25% of the IDF forces engaging in abuses against Palestinians at West Bank checkpoints and the number of investigation cases, it has over-stepped its role of being a security force to “find” terrorists or militants and instead, become part of a system that “terrorises” the average civilian Palestinians.
  2. With obstacles at preventing Palestinians from lodging official complaints and the fear of retaliation, the actual number of abuses and killings could be significantly higher.
  3. The low rates of indictments and convictions means the MPCID has to be more open about its investigations procedures.
  4. Such acts towards Palestinians definitely creates resentment against Israel.

In short, the IDF is not only seen, but has become an instrument of terror against civilian Palestinians.

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