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Since September 2000, the Israeli Military Courts Have Convicted Just Six Soldiers for Offenses Involving the Death of Palestinians

Yesh Din

September 1, 2013

Ziv Stahl, director of Yesh Din’s Research Department, commented on the findings: "In practice, the updated statistics show that the likelihood that a soldier who unjustifiably killed a Palestinian civilian will be investigated, let alone penalized, is slight to non-existent. This reality encourages the unlawful use of weapons by soldiers, even in clearly civilian situations such as demonstrations."

The human rights organization Yesh Din today published updated statistics regarding investigations by the Military Police Criminal Investigations Department (MPCID) into the circumstances surrounding the death of Palestinians since September 2000, as well as figures for convictions and penalization relating to these incidents. According to B’Tselem figures, some 5,000 Palestinians have been killed to date by the Israeli security forces in the Occupied Territories since the beginning of the second intifada in September 2000. Figures forwarded to Yesh Din by the IDF Spokesperson show that the MPCID opened over 179 criminal investigations in the period 2003-2013 concerning the suspected killing of Palestinian civilians by IDF soldiers, but only 16 of these files led to indictments.

The recent report of the Turkel Commission discussed in detail the problematic nature of the policy applied from the beginning of the second intifada, and until recently, regarding the opening of criminal investigations. The outcome of this policy was that the MPCID only opened investigations in a small number of cases involving the killing of Palestinians by soldiers. The figures published today show that indictments were served in just a handful of investigations involving the death of Palestinians. The number of instances in which IDF soldiers have been convicted since 2000 of liability for the death of Palestinians in the territories is extremely small.

Just 16 of the investigation files into incidents in which Palestinians were killed led to indictments. In these indictments, a total of 21 soldiers were charged with offenses relating to the death of 18 Palestinian civilians and one foreign national. Some of the defendants were charged with offenses relating to the disruption of the investigation rather than to the incident itself. The military courts ultimately convicted seven soldiers of offenses relating to the death of just six civilians – five Palestinians and one British citizen. Two additional soldiers were convicted of offenses relating to the attempt to pervert the course of justice in the framework of these proceedings.

In addition, the offenses with which the soldiers were charged and the penalties handed down by the courts reflect a disregard for Palestinian life. Just a single soldier was convicted of manslaughter (in a case involving the death of a British citizen) and was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment. Four soldiers were each convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to periods of imprisonment of a few months; in some cases, the sentence was suspended. Two officers were each convicted of negligence following the death of an infant after bullets hit the car in which he was traveling. One of the officers was sentenced to one month’s military labor and a four-month suspended sentence, and the other to 30 days’ imprisonment and a four-month suspended sentence (for full details see the data sheet).


:: Article nr. 100622 sent on 03-sep-2013 12:38 ECT


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