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Human Rights Watch; Promoting Impunity: The Israeli Military’s Failure to Investigate Wrongdoing





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This report examines the Israeli army’s failure to investigate adequately allegations of wrongdoing by Israeli soldiers since the outbreak of clashes in September 2000.  Between September 2000 and May 2004, some 500 Palestinian children and 2,500 Palestinian adults were killed, 75% of whom were civilians. The IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) opened a total of 506 investigations into alleged wrongdoing by Israeli soldiers, which resulted in 1 conviction leading to a sentence of two months’ imprisonment.

HRW finds that the Israeli military’s investigative practices and procedures are not impartial, nor thorough, nor timely. At the heart of the problem is a system that relies on soldiers’ own accounts as the threshold for determining whether serious investigation is warranted, and the absence of victim involvement in the investigative process.

Finally, HRW finds that “Israel has avoided as much as possible paying compensation to civilian victims of IDF wrongdoing” (pag. 117-119). In 2002 the Israeli Parliament amended the State Liability Law of 1952, expanding the scope of acts for which compensation would not be payed. The amendment includes a complex procedure that allows Palestinians to ask compensation in an Israeli court in only limited circumstances (see the Civil Wrongs Law under Legal Instruments in this section). In practice, Israeli officials have offered victims payments as “humanitarian gestures” or as part of confidentiality agreements. According to HRW, this practice falls clearly short of Israeli’s obligations under international humanitarian law and human rights law.

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