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From the field

A decade of impunity for harm to civilians

B'Tselem's forthcoming annual report on human rights in the Occupied Territories: 73 investigations out of 304 complaints about the killing of civilians

Recently, the Military Advocate General (MAG) Corps sent B'Tselem an update regarding hundreds of complaints that that organization had submitted over the past decade in cases where members of the security forces killed Palestinians who did not participate in the hostilities. The data is included in B'Tselem's forthcoming annual report, to be published Wed. 21.3.2012.

From September 2000 to April 2011

From the start of the second intifada and until April 2011, when the MAG Corps changed its investigation policy, B'Tselem demanded a criminal investigation into 304 cases in which soldiers killed Palestinians.

Investigations were opened in only 73 of these cases. Of these, as far as B'Tselem knows, indictments were filed in nine cases and 23 investigations were closed with no measures taken against soldiers; in 27 cases the MPIU completed the investigation but the case was still awaiting the decision of the Military Advocate General; and 14 cases are still under investigation.

As for the remaining cases, B'Tselem was informed that, regarding 168 cases, no investigation would be opened and that in 44 cases, the MAG Corps had not yet decided whether to open an MPIU investigation. Regarding 14 cases, the MAG Corps told B'Tselem that the files could not be located, and five files had been transferred to other investigative bodies.

Since the change in the investigations policy in April 2011

MPIU investigations were ordered in all four cases in which Palestinians were killed in the West Bank. As far as B'Tselem knows, the MPIU is still investigating all of these cases.

B'Tselem welcomes the change in policy. However, the new policy is based on the situation on the ground – the relative calm in the West Bank – and not on an acknowledgement of the obligation to investigate all civilian deaths, even during hostilities.

Investigations into suspicions of security forces' violence

The situation of accountability in cases of suspected violence is not much better, in spite of the relatively high number of investigations. From September 2000 until the end of 2011, B’Tselem reported 485 cases to the law-enforcement authorities in which B'Tselem's investigation raised the suspicion that security forces used violence against Palestinians. Soldiers were involved in about half of these cases, and police or Border Police were involved in the rest. In each case, B'Tselem wrote to the relevant body and demanded an investigation and prosecution of those responsible

  • Of the 241 cases involving soldiers that B'Tselem sent to the Military Advocate General’s Corps, Military Police investigations were opened in 200 of the cases. However, the overwhelming majority of these - 134 cases - were closed without any measures being taken against the soldiers involved. Seven investigations led to filing of indictments, one of which was subsequently withdrawn. In another 18 cases, the MAG corps decided not to open an investigation. B'Tselem was not provided information on the handling of the other cases.
  • B’Tselem sent 244 cases to the Department for the Investigation of Police concerning violence by police and Border Police officers. Information provided to B'Tselem indicates that an investigation was ordered in 146 of the cases, but fully 113 of them were closed without any measures being taken against those involved. In 12 of the cases, indictments were filed. In 77 cases, DIP decided not to open any investigation. B'Tselem was not provided information on the handling of the remaining cases.