Wednesday, December 29, 2010

who cares if a Palestinian civilian is killed by Israel?

Of all the Israeli human rights organizations, B'tselem stands tall in doggedly following the plight of the Palestinians, documenting it and pushing the facts in the face of Israel.

The latest publication, Void of Responsibility, I have just received in the mail. It deals with the policy of the Israeli military not to investigate the killings of Palestinian civilians by Israeli soldiers.

I want to reproduce some brief excerpts so you can understand how Palestinians not only have no meaningful rights in the eyes of Israel, but that they are not even considered worthy of attention beyond coercion and the application of force.

First, Israel slacks off investigations -
From the beginning of the first intifada, in December 1987, to the outbreak of the second intifada, in September 2000, the Military Police Investigation Unit (MPIU) investigated almost every case in which Palestinians not taking part in hostilities were killed. At the beginning of the second intifada, the Judge Advocate General's Office announced that it was defining the situation in the Occupied Territories an “armed conflict,” and that investigations would be opened only in exceptional cases...and treated every act carried out by soldiers as a combat action, even in cases when these acts bear the clear hallmarks of a policing action.
Then B'tselem challenges this, the Palestinians having no hope of successfully doing so -
In November 2005, in the framework of a hearing on a petition filed by B'Tselem and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel objecting to the policy of not opening MPIU (Military Police Investigation Unit) investigations, the army instituted a procedure calling for preliminary investigation, within a limited period of time, of cases in which Palestinians not taking part in hostilities were killed. However, the procedure did not set a time framework for making decisions whether to order an MPIU investigation or to prosecute alleged offenders.
Israel makes motions to deal with it, but doesn't
The establishment, in 2007, of the Office of the Judge Advocate for Operational Matters, which was intended to improve the efficiency in handling complaints and reduce the handling time, did not bring about significant change.

During the period covered by the report (2006-2009), B'Tselem made a demand for an MPIU investigation in 148 cases. The Judge Advocate General's Office ordered an MPIU investigation in only 22 cases. In 36.3 percent of the cases in which an MPIU investigation was opened, the investigation did not begin until a year or more after the incident occurred. Where an MPIU investigation was carried out, two ended with the Judge Advocate General's Office's decision to close the file without prosecution; the others await decision. In 95 cases, 16 of which date from 2006, preliminary handling by the Judge Advocate General's Office has not been completed, and B'Tselem has not been informed whether an MPIU investigation will be ordered.

But B'tselem, like a dog with a bone, is persisting by issuing the report mentioned above
To explore the considerations, the report analyzes a number of instances in which the decision was made not to open an MPIU investigation and finds that MPIU investigations were not opened also in cases in which there was a serious suspicion of clear breach of international humanitarian law.
Should you wonder, like I do, about what organization to support over any others, B'tselem is a good choice. They are in the trenches, pull no punches and publicize what they do. Giving videocams to Palestinians to document what happens to them is another brilliant idea of theirs.

No comments:

Post a Comment