A report by an Israeli human rights group says police fail to bring charges in nearly all alleged cases of violence against Palestinians by Israeli settlers in the West Bank.
According to the report by the Israeli human rights group, Yesh Din, Israeli police in the occupied West Bank fail to bring charges in 90 percent of alleged cases of violence by Jewish settlers against Palestinians in the area.
Yesh Din, which means "there is law" in Hebrew, says Israeli police fail to take testimony from witnesses, do not carry out police lineups of Israeli suspects and do not check the alibis of settlers accused of assaults against Palestinians.
Lior Yavne, the author of the Yesh Din report, says the problems start when the violence breaks out.
"If an IDF [Israeli Defense Forces] soldier is present at the scene of the attack, they normally either are not aware, or unwilling to perform their duty to protect Palestinian civilians from an Israeli settler attack," Yavne said. "The soldiers do not act to arrest the perpetrator. Then, when the Palestinian is trying to file a complaint, he tackles many hardships. The police stations in the West Bank are normally located inside settlements, into which Palestinians are not allowed to go into."
Under Israeli military law, which governs much of the West Bank, police are responsible for carrying out investigations of cases of alleged assaults, even though the Israeli Army has occupied the West Bank since the 1967 Middle East War.
The Yesh Din study which examined 92 cases of alleged settler violence against Palestinians since 2002, found that, of the 71 that were closed, 83 percent were closed for lack of evidence, and seven-percent of the files were lost.
Ten percent of the cases resulted in indictments. Most of the cases involve property crimes, such as alleged settler destruction of Palestinian olive groves.
Israeli police officials say they are studying the Yesh Din report, and will amend their policies depending on what they conclude from the report.
About 240,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank, mostly in large settlement blocs near Jerusalem. The Yesh Din report found that most cases of alleged settler assaults occurred near smaller, more isolated settlements, near the cities of Hebron and Nablus, which are home to religiously motivated settler groups. Settlers living in such isolated settlements also frequently come under attack from Palestinians.