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Settler shoots at Palestinian, police find 'no criminal culpability'

The Judea and Samaria Police outdid itself by closing a case of shooting at a Palestinian for ‘lack of criminal culpability.’

By Yesh Din, written by Yossi Gurvitz

Armed settlers (illustrative photo, by Anne Paq/Activestills.org)

This blog has dealt extensively with one of the most dysfunctional organizations around, to wit, the Judea and Samaria Police District (JSPD), which manages to look even worse than regular Israeli police. (Judea and Samaria is the name used by Israel to describe the West Bank.) That should have immunized yours truly from being shocked by it; and yet, our volunteers are now helping search for my dropped jaw.

Let’s begin with the facts: there is a village called Burin. Unfortunately for it, it is adjacent to a series of settlements and illegal outposts. One of the latter is Givat Ronen. In the Palestinian house closest to the outposts lives a man called Bruce Lee (after the famous Karate star) Eid. He and his family members have been suffering violence and abuse by the settlers for quite some time.

At the beginning of April, Bruce-Lee Eid lodged a complaint with the JSPD about three related incidents. In the first one, which took place on March 31, Bruce-Lee Eid noticed a settler he is familiar approaching his house; the settler is called R. In his complaint, Bruce-Lee Eid noted he knows R. since the latter tends to herd his flock on Bruce-Lee Eid’s lands. R. was accompanied by a minor and a third person. According to the complaint, R. threatened to murder Bruce-Lee Eid, and at one point drew a gun and fired into the air. The minor and the third person began chasing Bruce-Lee Eid and his family members into the house, while the minor pointed at them what appeared to be an M-16 assault rifle and vocally made firing sounds. A military force reached the scene, drove off the settlers, detained the minor and reach the conclusion the rifle was fake, but refrained from arresting them.

The next incident took place the following day, April 1. R. arrived again with the minor and another young man, and they began cursing Bruce-Lee Eid and his family members, with the minor again mimicking shooting. Bruce-Lee Eid photographed them, and added the pictures to his complaint.

The third incident took place on the next day, April 2. A group of settlers – about 20 of them – came to Bruce-Lee Eid’s house and began stoning it. Soldiers reached the scene, dispersed the settlers, but – as usual – did not arrest them.

The police closed the file. The fact that the JSPD can’t do its job no longer surprises us; what shocked us was the reason it gave for closing the investigation. Generally the JSPD goes with “unknown perpetrator.” The JSPD is extraordinary in its ability to avoid doing its job and fail to recognize felons even when the victim provides it with the perp’s phone number (Hebrew); however, this time the case was closed because of “lack of criminal culpability.”

How do you shelve away a shooting incident and a threat with “lack of criminal culpability?” Well, the JSPD claims – with justification – that the rifle which was used by the minor in the first two incidents was fake. The ability of the JSPD to ignore the facts is astonishing: the minor was not the one to shoot. So did the settler, R., whose pictures were turned over to the police by Bruce-Lee Eid. The police simply disregarded this fact. The case file, as shown to us, contains but two documents: Bruce-Lee Eid’s original complaint, and a check made with the army about the detention of the minor with the fake rifle.

Naturally, the police could do a lot more. It could summon R. for an interrogation (it has his photos); it could look for bullets and casings from a gun near Bruce-Lee Eid’s house; it could summon the minor for an interrogation by a youth interrogator; it could take statements from the soldiers; and much more. None of this was done.

All of this begs the conclusion that the JSPD does not want to investigate felonies committed against Palestinians, whenever scary settlers are involved. It wants Bruce-Lee Eid to stop pestering it with complaints, and if that means he will have to abandon his house for fear of the marauders, that’s sad but such is life when your neighbors live in an outpost. That’s what the outposts are for, after all.

And yet, in the JSPD’s book of shame, the words “lack of criminal culpability” will be written in capital letters, since they show that threatening Palestinians and shooting at them are, as far as the JSPD is concerned, not something to be investigated seriously, but rather a nuisance. For it is policemen, of course, who have to waste time with complaints they have no intention of investigating.

We intend to force the JSPD to justify its public funds and conduct something which may even resemble an investigation. Attorney Noa Amrami has appealed this embarrassing decision on our behalf, noting that, “it seems the investigative authorities choose to overlook every basic tenet of running an investigation, and mock and scorn the rights of my client to live in safety and to see justice done to the felons who have been harassing his family for years. When the children of my client, aged eight and ten, live in fear and terror and do not want to leave their house for fear of being harmed with no warning, this is plain and simple terrorism.”

Right on the money.

Written by Yossi Gurvitz in his capacity as a blogger for Yesh Din, Volunteers for Human Rights. A version of this post was first published on Yesh Din’s blog.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. rsgengland

      What is the history between “bruce-lee” and R in the past?
      Is there any evidence we are missing?
      R shot into the air.
      If “bruce-lee” had a gun, where would he have shot;[past evidence of palestinians having guns would point to it being a dead R]?
      Please persuade me I am wrong. About palestinians with guns.

      Reply to Comment
      • ‘If Bruce Lee had a gun’? How is this even a relevant question? He didn’t have a gun. You might as well ask, “But what if Bruce Lee had had a rampaging elephant?” What he might hypothetically do if he had a gun or an elephant or a little lamb or anything else is not a police concern. It’s their responsibility to investigate actual reported incidents, not to engage in ‘what if’ hypotheticals based on the ethnicity of the person reporting the crime.

        A group of twenty settlers turned up and stoned the man’s home. Soldiers witnessed it. They made no arrests. If that had been one Palestinian kid throwing one single stone at a settlement home, he would have been detained on the spot, and you would be explaining the necessity of detaining minors who engage in such dangerous life-threatening activity – as you’ve done so many times before. But a gang of twenty men with known access to weapons aren’t threatening enough to warrant arrest?

        And if a Palestinian had shot near a settler’s house no one would be splitting hairs over whether he had fired ‘in the air’ or not. It would be treated by the police as an aggressive action.

        Reply to Comment
        • Vicky, with no disrespect to your faith intended, the settlers have the blood merit of Holocaust, the Independence War, and suicide bombing. And, as Rsgn’s comment shows, Bruce and Palestinians generally have the blood libel of these events in mirror image. Since some Palestinians have guns, all Palestinians are guilty of having guns.

          Reply to Comment
          • Average American

            What an astounding thing to say. Still using the “holocaust” as justification for everything. Let me tell you something: the average American is sick of that, and he or she doesn’t owe Israel anything for what someone else did over 50 years ago. Israel is the face and hands and heart and soul of Zionism. Look no further than Israel’s behavior toward any other people besides themselves, including Palestinians and Blacks and Goys, to know what Zionism is all about.

            Reply to Comment
      • Rsgengland The only evidence missing here is that of you being a human being. You sound like some herpes ridden mohel with a shrinking brain.

        Reply to Comment
        • rsgengland

          Vitriolic invective directed at others is a very poor example of intelligent discussion.
          The language you use here, would be more pertinent if it were directed at yourself.
          Most posts from Yesh Din ensure that there is only evidence from one side, which always causes me to question the narrative of those incidents that are described.

          Reply to Comment
          • Actually, Rsgen, there is generally little or no evidence on the prior resident’s side, as the police doesn’t collect it. The issues of these Yesh Din posts are as much procedural as substantive. Israel created a police force for the West Bank, and it is procedurally wanting.

            Reply to Comment
      • The past history of Bruce and R (which we know from the post at least includes trespassing onto Bruce’s land) is irrelevant to interdicting a mass stoning. The whole point of policing is to excise present behavior from its past. Under your implicit logic, we would have to forgive all wrongs done by Palestinians derivative of wrongs done to them by settlers, and so for settlers too, which would allow the police to play computer games at HQ, as everyone would have an excuse for their present acts.

        You’ve done your view no good this day. Which shows how effective these Yesh Din posts are.

        Reply to Comment
      • carl

        Negate everything. Negate it anywhere. Negate it whenever. That’s the Evil’s strategy.

        Reply to Comment
      • Gearoid

        If “R” invaded and threatened another persons home, and as a result was killed, I would shed no tears for him.

        I don’t understand, are you suggesting Eid would have be in the wrong to shoot at a man who invaded his home and threatened him with a firearm? Are you such a bigot that you consider it acceptable for Jews to shoot at Palestinians as “security threats” but that a similar response from a Palestinian would be unacceptable?

        This is all counterfactual. But if that settler was killed it would be his own fault.

        Reply to Comment
    2. The Trespasser

      >Judea and Samaria is the name used by Israel to describe the West Bank.

      Wow.

      Reply to Comment
    3. That 20 or so settlers arrived for a stoning (perhaps to retaliate against the existence of Bruce and his house, or payback for the brief detention of the minor)suggests the settlers have no expectation of State prosecution. They will be just sent home as misbehaving children. Since reversing race labels would lead to more resolved action by both military and police, Bruce is essentially wiped out of emotional existence. “Terrorism” is race limited, and the settlers are encouraged to this view by the actions of the State itself.

      Reply to Comment
      • Vadim

        They were not stoning, they were protesting or participating in a non violent demonstration.

        Reply to Comment
        • No Vadim, they gathered around a house to stone it. No soldiers were firing tear gas at them, nor was there threat of bullets; there were no soldiers to stone. The purpose was symbolic expulsion of residents from their land–and a threat.

          Why not just say the police are wrong here? This isn’t a hockey game–or is it?

          Reply to Comment
    4. Vadim

      I have no problem saying Israeli police is wrong. They are completely impotent in all but the hardest of crimes and those that involve celebrities.

      I also don’t have any problem with the police arresting anyone that throws stones or performs other acts of violence – Jews, Arabs and any other person that acts violently should be arrested and jailed if needed.

      I tend to take any “report” made by Yossi Gurvitz with a grain of salt.

      Please look at the sympathetic way Arab stone throwers are described here and the hysterical way each case where Jews are involved is described. You can’t call one case a non violent protest and another a stoning just based on the political views of the participants. Several days ago, dozens (some reports say around a hundred) Arabs tried to forcefully enter the Temple Mount compound and then proceeded throwing stones at civilians and policemen. Did you hear about it on 972? Why do you think not?

      Reply to Comment
      • “Several days ago, dozens (some reports say around a hundred) Arabs tried to forcefully enter the Temple Mount compound and then proceeded throwing stones at civilians and policemen. Did you hear about it on 972? Why do you think not?” : I, of course, have heard nothing of this, given my limited reading. I think it is a deficit in 972 and structural, from what I understand. As far as I know, 972 is a cooperative. Contributors are not assigned stories by editors; rather, the former decided what to cover; they largely volunteer their reporting and commentary. This means 972 is not an ostensive newspaper, as reflected in it full online address, “972 Magazine.” This means that there will be more bias through exclusion than a newspaper should admit. But it is not a newspaper, and the group does not have the resources to hire for full coverage which, in Israel, would be contentiously defined in any case.

        On the present case, that others throw stones does not obviate IDF and police responsibility to prevent organized stone throwing by settlers, around a Palestinian house, without even immediate incitement, especially given the pampered status of settlers in law and protection. The settlers are the ones expanding their holdings. They are rarely subject to removal or land confiscation, a fortiori even less subject to tear gas, rubber bullets, bodily damage, or arrest. For the settlers’ own privileged sake, behavior like this should be slapped down legally.

        As to these Yesh Din reports, I find them remarkably restrained. The regular violations of Palestinian life and dignity, reflected in failure of the law, are meant in part to enrage the victim, thereby allowing one to condemn his aggressive reply (stone throwing, for example). By detailing the Kafkaesque world which the law abides, these reports are forcing us to look at our blinding hypocrisy. I stumbled upon 972 shortly after its emergence. Earlier, Yossi was much more acerbic. I find his partnership with Yesh Din to be one of the great achievement of 972. They haven’t given up on the horizon of the law. Indeed, because of efforts like theirs, I expect that horizon to expand, eventually–albeit with painful setbacks.

        Reply to Comment

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