Report: Israel rarely prosecutes troops

Israel Materials 19 December 2007 10:51 (UTC +04:00)

( AP ) - In the past seven years, the Israeli military has indicted just 10 percent of soldiers suspected of criminal offenses against Palestinians, an Israeli human rights group reported Tuesday, saying the figure raises questions about Israel's willingness to prosecute.

The Yesh Din group said just 9 percent of investigations led to convictions. The conviction rate was less than 7 percent when the investigations focused on the killing and injury of civilians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, it said.

"The low number of investigations opened and the minute number of indictments served reveal the (military's) de facto derogation of its duty to protect the civilian Palestinian population against offenses committed by its soldiers," said Michael Sfard, Yesh Din's legal counsel.

Basing its report on statistics solicited from the military, Yesh Din reported that 1,091 criminal investigations were launched between September 2000 - the start of the second Palestinian uprising against Israel - and June 2007. Of that number, 118, or 10 percent, were indicted, and 101, or 9 percent, were convicted.

Of the 239 investigations into the killing and injury of Palestinian civilians, 16 resulted in convictions, or 6.7 percent, Yesh Din reported.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said the Israeli legal system takes all complaints seriously.

" Israel is a country in which we pride ourselves on our independent and professional judiciary," he said. "No one - no institution and no individual - is above the law."

The military said it was looking into Yesh Din's report.