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Israeli forces have killed over 5,500 Palestinians in the last 15 years and not one soldier has been prosecuted for murder

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Israeli soldiers are almost never prosecuted for killings in the occupied Palestinian territory, the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din said yesterday after finding over the past 15 years, no officers were indicted for murder, and only one soldier was convicted of homicide in the case of the killing of a foreign national.

No soldiers were charged with homicide in the slaying of Palestinians during the period of September 2000 to November 2015. In this time frame Israeli forces killed more than 5,500 Palestinians and ten foreign nationals in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, according to the human rights group B’tselem (this figure excludes casualties from both the 2009 and 2014 wars in Gaza).

“The fact is that we see the cases and we see the statistics, and it just seems the army doesn’t know how to or doesn’t have the ability to investigate these cases property,” said Yesh Din spokesperson Gilad Grossman, “And I’m not sure they have the will to do it either.”

Yesh Din analyzed data released by Israeli’s military court and found investigations were opened into the killings of 262 cases since 2000, leading to the indictments of 22 soldiers, and the conviction of seven.

The Israeli military did not disclosed information on all of the incidents where soldiers were sentenced. Filling in the blanks on one of the two negligent homicide convictions, Yesh Din conducted an independent inquiry and found a staff sergeant identified as “M.M.” opened fire on Palestinian Udai Darwish, 21, as he attempted to cross into Israel near the Negev in 2013. Darwish did not pose any threat to M.M. at the time of his killing.

For Darwish’s death, the soldier served less than one year in prison.

Yesh Din said M.M. “was convicted on the basis of his own admission and sentenced to seven months’ imprisonment, a five-month suspended sentence, and demotion to the rank of sergeant.”

In a similar case where Yesh Din said two soldiers were indicted but not convicted of reckless behavior in 2013, Israeli forces killed Samir Awad, 16, from the West Bank town of Budrus. Awad was shot multiple times while caught between two army fences that comprise the wall separating the occupied Palestinian territory from Israel.

Awad’s killing was one of 22 cases profiled in Amnesty International’s 2013 report Trigger-happy: Israel’s use of excessive force in the West Bank. The year of his death marked an increase in the killings of Palestinian civilians, twice as many were slain that year than in the two years prior.

Amnesty International said in the report Awad’s shooting may have amounted to an “extrajudicial killing,” or a willful execution, which is considered a war crime under international law.

Amnesty International’s Philip Luther questioned the legality of the shooting.

“It’s hard to believe that an unarmed child could be perceived as posing imminent danger to a well-equipped soldier. Israeli forces appear in this and other cases to have recklessly fired bullets at the slightest appearance of a threat,” Luther said.

Witness Malik Murar, 16, and a friend of Awad told Amnesty International, “They shot him first in the leg, yet he managed to run away… how far can an injured child run? They could have easily arrested him… instead they shot him in the back with live ammunition.”

“The fact that they don’t indict on more severe charges—I’m not talking about murder, nobody has been charged with that,” Grossman said, “raises a lot of questions.”

The most serious conviction handed down was for the charge of homicide in the killing of a British citizen, Tom Hurndall, 22. Hurdnall was shot by an Israeli soldier in the head in 2003 while volunteering in Gaza. 

Grossman’s view is light sentences reflect a culture within military tribunals that sees these incidents not as “an extreme criminal case, but as a a mistake that happens during soldiers’ work.”

In other types of criminal offenses such as sexual abuse, Israeli military courts near a 50 percent rate of conviction.

Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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9 Responses

  1. ritzl on April 14, 2016, 11:49 am

    Are hunters prosecuted for hunting animals?

    There’s the Jewish-Israeli ethos.

  2. Kay24 on April 14, 2016, 1:19 pm

    It is ironic that these murderers are called the most moral army in the world. They are nothing but vicious killers of civilians, babies, and have a record of targeting civilian structures with their precision bombs. Meanwhile during the Gaza massacre, some of their people picnicked on hilltops and cheered these killers. What a sick society.

    Are the US politicians like Hillary ignorant of these facts, or is it far more convenient for them (and their need for shekels) to pretend they don’t?

    • Antidote on April 22, 2016, 8:58 am

      “Are the US politicians like Hillary ignorant of these facts, or is it far more convenient for them (and their need for shekels) to pretend they don’t? ”

      It’s either shekels or shackles. They are certainly not ignorant of the facts.

      eljay replied to one of my comments a week ago, noting:

      “I wasn’t aware that one of the requirements of being American is supporting (war) criminal states. Interesting.”

      – See more at:

      As an American citizen, entitled to freedom of speech, you are indeed free to condemn or glorify war crimes committed by anyone, and including the US. But different rules apply to US government.

      It is indeed US law to protect all members of the US military and US officials from prosecution at the ICC in de Hague. And this law extends to all allies, including Israel.

      If you don’t understand this, you will forever get yourself trapped in nonsense arguments and false notions re the power of AIPAC over the US. So read this, the whole thing:

  3. chocopie on April 15, 2016, 1:43 am

    That headline is very troubling. Further down in the article, there’s an explanation that the 5,500 killed excludes the thousands killed in 2009 and 2014 in Gaza. However, the headline should be changed because it is so misleading.

    Also, just a suggestion, but maybe Mondoweiss could consider an editorial policy of not calling the attacks on Gaza “wars,” since that may contribute to legitimizing Israel’s periodic massacres of the captive Gaza population.

    • Marnie on April 15, 2016, 8:07 am

      You’ve made a great point and I only I hope Allison and others at MW will take note and correct.

      It would have been interesting to get statistics on the number of Palestinians prosecuted for killing the enemy versus the usual summary execution that of course was excused in the “heat of battle”. (What battle? The one for hearts and minds? Wrong warriors. The ongoing occupation that is erroneously called by some a war?)

    • Ghazi28 on January 6, 2018, 11:47 pm

      The thousands killed in Gaza in 2009 and 2014? Are you suggesting that these thousands don’t count because they happened to have been in Gaza? The thousands killed when the Jewish supremacists bombed crowded hospitals and U.N safe houses, dropped white phosphorous shells on the enclave, shot fleeing civilians waving white flags, shot at ambulances and killed medical workers, bombed apartment high-rises, shelled a cafe/bar full of civilians watching the world cup football on t.v, shelled a morning asembley of police recruits, shelled children playing on a beach, etc, etc?

  4. oldgeezer on April 15, 2016, 3:11 am

    I guess it’s all quite moral whwn the Israelis view the Palestinians as subhuman which is indicated by the statements of various GoI leaders.

    I really think the article should reflect the current US state department report which found almost half of the current spate of killings were of people not attacking or posing a threat to life.

    This is cold blooded killing by a savage barbaric bloodthirsty nation.

  5. Talkback on April 22, 2016, 2:18 pm

    Quick Bibi, show us Hamas rocket statistics to make sure that everybody knows who the terrorist is. And don’t forget to add that they were killed because Hamas used them as human shields.

    • Ghazi28 on January 6, 2018, 11:51 pm

      Do you have any evidence that Hamas used human shields? No, you don’t, because there is none. And not one of the extensive investigations by any of the worlds leading human rights organizations has found any evidence at all that Hamas used human shields. (And by evidence, I don’t mean a wacky Youtube video).
      You’re simply trying to turn reality on it’s head.

      Google: ‘Israeli High Court: IDF used palestinian civilians as human shields 1,200 times’.
      Google: ‘Amnesty: Israel used children as human shields in Gaza’.

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