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From the field

Background - Whitewash and Failure to Investigate the Killing of Civilians in the Occupied Territories

BThe trial of the soldier accused of killing Tom Hurndall is the exception that proves the rule. Since the start of the Intifada, the Judge Advocate General's policy is to avoid opening Military Police investigations, in all but exceptional cases.

According to B'Tselem's figures, since the beginning of the Intifada (in late September 2000) until 26 June 2005, Israeli security forces have killed at least 1,722 Palestinians not taking part in the hostilities, among them 563 minors. In that period of time, the Military Police investigated only 108 cases involving Palestinians killed or injured by soldiers in the Occupied Territories . An indictment was issued in only 19 of these cases. In only two cases were soldiers convicted of causing the death of a Palestinian.

The Judge Advocate General's policy not to open Military Police investigations into the killing of civilians sends IDF commanders and soldiers the message that it is unlikely they will be held accountable for harming civilians. This message has led to a trigger-happy attitude, and the extensive harm to Palestinian civilians.