Israel slow to prosecute abusive troops


Israel rarely prosecutes soldiers accused of abusing Palestinians, military data indicate.

According to statistics obtained by the Yesh Din human rights group and released to the media Tuesday, since the outbreak of violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in September 2001, approximately 1,100 military police investigations have been conducted against Israeli troops suspected of unlawfully harming Palestinian civilians or their property.

Those probes produced only 118 indictments and a handful of convictions, Yesh Din said, adding that the figures suggested an atmosphere of impunity in the Israeli armed forces when it comes to abuse of innocent Palestinians.

Israel says its military abides by high ethical standards, but a study commissioned recently by the top brass found widespread accounts of harassment of Palestinians by soldiers at checkpoints – a yardstick of abuse.

The chief of Israeli forces in the West Bank, Maj.-Gen. Gadi Shamni, has ordered troops to undergo workshops on the need to treat the Palestinian public humanely despite the ongoing risk of terrorist infiltrations.

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