police in Hevron
police in HevronIsrael News Photo: (Flash 90)

For the first time, police statistics are shown to confirm official law enforcement discrimination against the Jews of Judea and Samaria.

The 29-page report shows a clear pattern, backed up by columns of statistics, of police discrimination against Jews living in Judea and Samaria. The report was prepared by the Civil Rights Organization of Judea and Samaria (Yesha), headed by Orit Strook of Hevron.

While throughout Israel the number of police-opened criminal files, with no complainant, runs at 14% of the cases, in the Jewish towns of Yesha it is 25% - 80% more.

Treating Jewish Residents as Gangsters

The statistics indicate that the Jews of Yesha are treated as a “community of crime,” in which specially-formulated regulations are implemented. These include:

  • using the Shabak (Shin Bet, General Security Service) as an intelligence body, instead of standard police detectives
  • usage of restraining and distancing orders
  • massive and forceful police presence
  • relatively many arrests; unlike elsewhere in the country, the police are obligated to arrest any Jew who causes any harm to a person or property
  • police-opened files in a wholesale and initiated manner
  • special detective teams
  • extra-light criteria in determining when to hand down indictments

“Practically speaking,” the report concludes, “the purpose of formulating the special regulations [against the residents of Yesha], which have no parallel anywhere else in Israel, was to use the law enforcement institutions in order to enable the government to oppress political opponents.”

The piercing question is: What is the legal, constitutional and moral justification for the over-enforcing of the law against the Jewish residents?

One chapter deals with the “Yesha Law Enforcement Team”. Though this body was officially dismantled in 1998, by order of the Attorney General, in fact it continues to operate up to this very day.

The report reviews the ways in which this team works: Re-opening closed criminal files, exerting pressure on courts, compiling a ‘black list’ of suspected and accused Jews, issuing administrative distancing orders, and the like. This body operates in violation of Knesset decisions, while on the other hand, it is susceptible to influence by various left-wing groups.

The special regulations formulated by the Attorney General in 1999 regarding Arabs of Judea and Samaria state that any charges that do not deal with “heavy security crimes” must be dropped for “lack of public interest,” that charges must not be leveled against “public figures,” and that persons under 16 years of age must not be incarcerated over night.

Twice as Many Indictments, Half as Many Convictions

Another statistic shows that while the rate of indictments per criminal case averages 14% across the country, in the Judea and Samaria District it was no less than 38% - more than twice the national average.

Even more significant, however, is the rate of convictions: While across the country, 97% of those indicted on criminal files are convicted, in Judea and Samaria it is only 54%. The report therefore concludes that the judicial system ends up doing the “filtering out” work that the police are supposed to do, “and this is a grave blow at the basic civil rights of suspects in Judea and Samaria, who, because of the selective law enforcement policies, find themselves in the status of ‘accused’ who are forced to defend themselves in court, with all that that implies, in order to regain their status of presumed innocence.”

More Police Resources in Yesha

Not only do the police dedicate extra resources for the purpose of opening files against Yesha residents, the report states, but this also comes at the expense of the basic democratic rule of equality before the law.

Left-Wing Left Alone

Another chapter shows that while the Jews of Yesha are over-enforced, their Arab neighbors, as well as anarchists and left-wing outsiders who demonstrate or otherwise act in their areas, enjoy below-average law enforcement.

For instance, during the first 8.5 months of 2008, out of a total of 400 “disturbing the peace” files opened, only 36 of them were against left-wing activists – exactly 9%. This, despite the regular, weekly, violent left-wing protests held in Bil’in and Na'alin against IDF forces.

In addition, in 2007, only 30 left-wing figures were arrested. Out of this total of 66 arrests in ’07-’08, only two (3%) ended in indictments – as opposed to the figure of 38% against Jews cited above.

The report states that no distancing orders have ever been issued against the violent left-wing protestors, even though this would affect only their right to protest. On the other hand, five such orders have been handed down this year against nationalists, distancing them from their families, homes, source of income, and day-to-day life.

Six Times More Zeal Against Jews

Another telling statistic shows that in 73% of the cases opened against Jews in Yesha, the police were able to locate the suspects and verify the charges against them – while this was true for only 13% of the cases opened against Arabs. This percentage, the report states, is the most indicative of the amount and quality of resources used to enforce the law against the various sectors.

More Police Per Jew

Another telling statistic: The number of police officers in the Judea and Samaria District is one for every 241 Jewish residents, while in Um el Fahm it is one for every 1,200 residents. In the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Akko (Acre), the number is one for every 839 residents, and one for every 1,045 in Netanya. “This hurts not only the residents of Judea and Samaria, but all Israelis, who receive low-quality police service. One can only imagine how a more equitable distribution of police forces would help reduce crime in Netanya, for instance.”

The report cites several judicial rulings that expressed criticism of the police for pressing charges only against the Jews involved in an incident, while letting the Arabs involved go free.

Unanswered Questions

The report sums up as follows: “The reality, as reflected in special rules, data and the above charts, is one of disproportionate and unreasonable over-enforcement of law on one sector, tremendous allocation of police resources, trampling of residents’ civil rights, and lack of protection from attacks. Even worse, it shows that government bodies and law enforcement tools are used to repress a particular population sector that is labeled as having a particular political or ideological bent… The piercing question is: What is the legal, constitutional and moral justification for this? In addition, why is this true picture kept hidden from the public? Why has an opposite picture, one that has nothing to do with reality, been presented to the public over the course of many years?”