JERUSALEM (May. 25)
Alleged reprisals by Jewish settlers against Arabs on the West Bank which have gone unpunished has become a national issue following the resignation of Deputy Attorney General Yehudit Karp from a Justice Ministry committee she headed that was investigating Jewish vigilantism in the territory.
Karp charged that her committee was unable to get the cooperation of Israeli army and police authorities in its investigation of a long series of incidents from mid-1980 until the end of 1982. She resigned reportedly because the Justice Ministry failed to act on the committee’s recommendations.
But Interior Minister Yosef Burg, who is responsible for the police, played down the importance of the Karp committee’s report. Speaking at Bar Ilan University, he said it was no more than a summary of various police operations. The report has not been made public. The crux of it is believed to be that the police in the occupied territories have been unable to cope with irregularities by Jewish settlers for a variety of reasons.
These are said to include a shortage of competent manpower, lack of coordination between police and the military authorities and the refusal of the settlers to cooperate in the investigation of Jews suspected of offenses against Arabs.
BASIS OF THE PROBLEM OUTLINED
According to Jerusalem District Attorney Michael Kirsch, the problem is the dual legal system in the territories. Jewish settlers on the West Bank are subject to Israeli law; the Arab population is subject to
The settlers are allowed by the military authorities to carry weapons for self-defense but enjoined to use them only in life-threatening situations. The settlers claim that when they use their weapons to ward off stone-throwing attacks by Arabs, they are subject to police investigation even though they were authorized by the military. The settlers are demanding to be treated like soldiers in combat who do not have to account for the use of their weapons.
Defense Minister Moshe Arens took special pains a week ago to call attention to a statement he published that the rule of law must be applied in the territories. That was seen as an oblique acknowledgement that there has been a degree of negligence in that respect in the past. There have been many cases of Jewish harassment of Arabs without arrests being made or charges pressed.
ILLEGAL INCIDENTS, SHOOTINGS CITED
The Karp report is said to cite dozens of cases involving deliberate damage to Arab property, believed to be reprisals by Jewish vigilantes for stonethrowing, and a number of cases in which West Bank Arabs were killed.
MK Shulamit Aloni of the Labor Party, submitted a report to the Justice Ministry listing seven cases in which Arabs were allegedly shot by Jewish settlers. According to Aloni, there were 70 incidents of alleged illegal acts by Jews against Arabs. Of that number, 48 involved settlers and the rest either soldiers or border police, Aloni said.