The Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights group leveled harsh criticism at the Judea and Samaria District Police Thursday, saying the department is failing to prosecute cases of vandalism against Palestinian orchards in the West Bank.
According to a report by the group, released following the beginning of the olive-picking season, the 162 complaints filed by Palestinians over the past seven years – mostly against settlers – have so far yielded only one indictment.
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The complaints detail acts of damaging trees, uprooting them, cutting them down and stilling the produce, Yesh Din said.
The majority of complaints entail damage done to olive groves across the West Bank, but some detail damage to fruit orchards as well.
According to the report, 124 of the cases were dismissed on grounds of "felon unknown"; 16 cases were dismissed over insufficient evidence; two cases were dismissed over "lack of criminal liability" and the reason for the dismissal of five other cases were not released.
The police told Yesh Din that files concerning two of the complaints were lost.
The Judea and Samaria District Police said in response that, "The report compiled by Yesh Din has yet to be received by the police. It will be reviewed and we will respond to it accordingly."
Yesh Din's report further criticizes the police for also failing to enforce the law and deal with what the group defines as "Ideological offences by Israeli citizens against Palestinians in the West Bank."
According to the group, less than 9% of all active cases resulted in any kind of legal action.
"The police's failure to enforce the law encourages such acts of vandalism, since the perpetrators are not punished."
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