The military law enforcement system is supposed to handle complaints filed against soldiers for harm caused to Palestinians in the West Bank, including cases of violence and gunfire that resulted in injury or death. Such harm is endemic to the occupation, which has been in place for nearly fifty years.
The role of the military law enforcement system has been narrowly defined to begin with: it investigates only specific incidents in which soldiers are suspected to have acted in breach of the orders or directives they were given. The system does not investigate the orders themselves nor the responsibility of those who issue them or determine the policy. As such, the system is oriented toward low ranking soldiers only, while senior military and government officials, including the Military Advocate General (MAG), are absolved in advance of any responsibility. In this state of affairs, even if the system had fulfilled its tasks, its contribution to law enforcement would still remain limited. However, an examination of the operation of the military law enforcement system indicates that it makes no attempt to fulfill even this limited mandate.
Since the second intifada began in late 2000, B’Tselem has demanded an investigation in 739 cases in which soldiers killed, injured, beat or used Palestinians as human shields, or damaged Palestinian property. An analysis of the responses B’Tselem received as to how the military law enforcement system handled these 739 cases shows that in a quarter (182) no investigation was ever launched, in nearly half (343), the investigation was closed with no further action, and only in very rare instances (25), were charges brought against the implicated soldiers. Another thirteen cases were referred for disciplinary action. A total of 132 cases are still at various processing stages, and the MAG Corps was unable to locate 44 others.
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