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Israel Police claims unable to enforce law on West Bank settlers

The head of Israel Police’s West Bank division claims that he is incapable of indicting settlers in the West Bank. His reason? The location. 

The IDF issued temporary eviction orders on Thursday to 12 Jewish residents of the West Bank accused of planning attacks against Palestinians and the IDF.  The eviction orders range from anywhere between three and nine months. It is not clear where these people will reside during their eviction period and whether they are permitted to be in other parts of the West Bank or if they must be on the other side of the Green Line.

No charges were brought against them but rather the military claims it has information that is sufficient for their expulsion. This is an administrative expulsion order – the same practice that is used against Palestinian in the West Bank, where no proof of evidence is necessary, and no trial is conducted.

Why are these suspects not undergoing the due process of a trial? As a citizen, am I supposed to be put at east by the fact that they are distanced from their homes by the military without the chance to defend themselves – only to simply return to their homes at some point? In this case, I must agree with the settlers’ legal representation:

Honenu, a NGO that provides right-wing activists and soldiers with legal representation, and which is aiding the expelled extremists, said that Israel “reached a new low in human rights in the West Bank.” “If there’s a case against these youths then an indictment should be submitted, not out of court measures taken without proof or evidence,” Honenus said, adding that action through warrants was a step “worthy of military regimes in totalitarian countries.”

Honenu’s statement in fact only substantiates what Israeli “leftists” have been saying for years: there are two distincts systems of law in the region between the Mediterranean and the Jordan.

In another related story, Israel Police told the government today it is having a hard time issuing indictments against law-breakers in the West Bank because they are unable to gather sufficient evidence “due to the location of the crimes.” As Haim Rahamim, head of the investigations and intelligence wing of the Judea and Samaria District in the West Bank told the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee:

Ten people were arrested, but they were not indicted so they were released,” said Rahamim. “We have a problem with gathering evidence due to the location of where the crimes are committed.

What does that mean, “due to the location?” Why is it hard to gather evidence in the West Bank? Israel’s entire system of logic relies on its ability to instill order and security in the occupied Palestinian territories.  It should be easier to gather evidence there than inside Israel proper. The report does not specify what the problem is with the location, which is also faulty journalism.

Either way, by specifying the location of the crimes as a problem, this appears to be open admission by a senior security official that the police is incapable of enforcing basic criminal law on settlers in the West Bank. And the expulsion could also just be Netanyahu’s way of showing that something is being done to crack down on extremist settlers in order to give the semblance of justice in a place that is so obviously bereft of it.

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    1. John Yorke

      If the law of the land cannot be enforced through circumstances that make it difficult to proceed in its customary fashion, then a parallel can be made insofar as international law seems to have had a markedly similar lack of impact on Israeli/Palestinian issues in a much wider context.

      Maybe, as is the case in the West Bank, the forces of law and order worldwide need to be beefed up significantly to deal with matters arising.


      If immediate problems cannot be solved immediately, then the next best solution is to freeze them until such a time arrives when they can be more readily resolved, at some leisure and with more certainty of success.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Aaron

      The author asks, “What does that mean, `due to the location?’ Why is it hard to gather evidence in the West Bank?” Those are excellent questions. I expected to read after that, “When I asked the police spokesman, he replied….”
      I’d be interested in the police’s reasons for that, if any of the reporters at this site want to follow up. (I know you’re all doing this for free, I don’t expect anyone to contribute their spare time to this, just saying those are interesting questions.)

      Reply to Comment
    3. Mikesailor

      Unable, incompetent or unwilling? My money would be on the last two.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Mairav Zonszein

      @Aaron – Indeed, I this issue should be investigated further

      Reply to Comment
    5. John Yorke

      @ Mairav,

      And just what would further investigation reveal?
      I doubt there would be any big surprises in store.

      In fact, I see the whole matter turning into a very predictable affair with blame being apportioned to these Uber-Orthodox people and Judaism itself being tarred with much the same brush.

      This is all symptomatic of an underlying malaise, an unwillingness to tackle the really big questions and leaving the problems to increase, both in number and in magnitude. In the eyes of the world, Israelis are looking very small these days; believe me, it is not a good look.
      Somehow, it will be necessary for them to regain their size before it becomes too late.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Kernod

      This whole sordid affair serves as additional proof that Israel, besides all the other crimes of the occupation, is unable to protect the Palestinian population from these vigilantes. If Israel fails so miserably at its most basic duty, clearly it is the responsibility of the international community to intervene and send a force that will protect them instead of the IDF.

      Reply to Comment
    7. ginger

      How about calling in some Palestinian contractors to enforce law and order on the Settlers?

      A Palestinian ‘Blackwater’…

      Reply to Comment
    8. John yorke

      I would agree that, in this instance and as in many others, the impression given out by the Israeli authorities has more in common with an administration forced into taking somewhat belated action rather than for concern over the injustice of incidents in question.

      It seems to me that, for far too many years, the Israeli raison d’etre, its belief in the core values and strengths of the Jewish people, has become sidetracked by threats, real or imagined, concerning the very existence of the state itself. These have taken on a size and potency that dwarf all other considerations and, in consequence, a viewpoint bordering on myopia has come to prevail. This inability to see the larger picture has rendered the powers-that-be almost blind to any long-term vision for the future. After more than six decades of conflict, the accumulation of so much dust and debris on the battlefield has effectively obscured whatever guiding star might have steered both sets of combatants towards a better outcome in this matter.

      If only a way could be found to discontinue the battle, to let the dust settle for a time, then everyone might be able to see that star and get a new direction from it. But surely, as things now stand, such a thing is too difficult to achieve?

      Or is it easier than we can possibly imagine?


      Reply to Comment
    9. I cannot believe settlers think they have lost their civil rights upon accepting (let’s just say) an invitation by the State of Israel to live in the West Bank. The State’s expulsion of citizens provides common ground for left and right, but would not reach those mostly born on the Bank, the Palestinians. Still, such cases can build due process on the West Bank, which ultimately would constrain the IDF more than now (obviously). I continue to suspect that the trajectory of the State, Knessent and IDF (the two are somewhat independent of one another) may yield a legal revival–after much cost.
      I would defend these settlers as staunchly as any Israeli protestor in the Bank. The self imposed barrier of righteousness (on both sides?) can thereby be weakened.
      If not for +972 I would never know these things. I see little evidence of hysterical reporting.

      Reply to Comment
    10. John Yorke

      I believe the overall situation, be it in the West Bank, Gaza or Israel itself, has deteriorated to such an extent that any solution not going directly to the heart of the problem is doomed to failure. Failure, in this context, is not simply a matter of under-achievement or being unable to meet the necessary standard. It must reckoned in many more deaths to come and the continual disruption of those communities involved and the normal commerce of everyday life.

      Unless some means can be found to combat this state of affairs, means much more resolute than those applied at present, the prognosis for all sides in this matter remains very bad, possibly quite terminal unless some very radical measures can be taken. And soon.

      Just imagine if it were your son, daughter, wife, husband, sister, brother that is destined to die or be severely injured through continuation of this conflict. If you had the power, wouldn’t you move heaven and earth to prevent such a thing from happening? Well, someone’s son, daughter, wife, husband, sister, brother will be in that position before long, that is if the situation continues to be left to its own devices.

      When it comes to moving the heavens around, mere human beings cannot even dream, let alone aspire to such a project.
      Doing the same to the earth, however, turns out to be a much more realistic undertaking.


      If the task is easy, the risks minimal and the rewards great, then why not attempt the deed?

      Reply to Comment