June 07, 2009

In Israel the law is supreme

As we all know, Israel is a state of law. Everything the state does is legal and pedantically lawful. Citizens are held to the same high standard. No this is not a joke. This is how Israel perceives itself. You must remember Tzipi Livni dismissing concerns about settlers to Bob Simons from 60 minutes with the words, "Israel is a state of law and order."

Four years ago, an AWOL Israeli soldier, Eden Natan Zada, did a Baruch Goldstein in Northern Palestinian town of
Shfar'am. He rode the bus into town, then open fire, killing the driver and three passengers and wounding four more passengers. He was wrestled down by people on the bus and then killed by angry civilians some minutes after the end of the shooting. (sse Ynet, April 8, 2005).

Had he not been killed by the angry mob, we can safely assume that Natan-Zade would be walking free today, as is the Israeli custom. Julian Soufir, for example, who committed an elaborately pre-meditated murder of an East Jerusalem taxi driver is free. But this case is different. After four years of strenuous investigation, gathering 600 testimonies and interrogating 60 suspects, the Haifa district prosecutor is pressing charges of attempted murder and aggravated assault against 12 Shfar'am resident. That is because
"The prosecution believes that, despite Natan-Zada's atrocious actions, the events that led to his death seriously harmed the rule of law," (Haaretz, June 7, 2009)
No, that is because Natan-Zada was Jewish and his killers were Palestinians. Had he been a Palestinian killed by Jews, an indictment would be a coin toss, and the sentence a joke. Btslelem summarizes the legal situation thus:
when Israeli civilians attack Palestinians, the Israeli authorities employ an undeclared policy of leniency and compromise toward the perpetrators. This policy is reflected in the actions of officials in charge of law enforcement – the Israel Defense Force (IDF) and the Israel Police Force (IPF) – which do not do enough to prevent harm to
the life and property of Palestinians, and to stop the violent attacks by settlers while they are taking place. All law enforcement agencies and judicial authorities demonstrate little interest in uncovering the substantial violence that Israeli civilians commit against Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. (Btselem)

At the request of a dear reader I provide some additional evidence than in Israel a Jew can kill an Arab and walk free:
Since the outbreak of the first intifada, B’Tselem has monitored the authorities’ handling of all cases in which settlers and other Israeli civilians killed Palestinians.
Between 9 December 1987 and 18 March 2001, Israeli civilians killed 119 Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. Twenty-nine of them were killed in the Tomb of the Patriarchs by Baruch Goldstein, who was himself killed during the incident. Examination of the authorities’ treatment of these offenses indicates the failures and malfunctioning throughout the various stages of the law-enforcement system, from the opening of the investigation to reduction of sentences by Israel’s president.

The principal findings of B’Tselem’s monitoring are the following:

In six homicides, the police did not even open an investigation. Two of these cases occurred during the current events.
In 39 cases, the investigation file was closed. Fifteen files were closed by the police and 22 by the State Attorney’s Office. Two other files were closed by the military. The vast majority were closed on grounds of “offender unknown” or “lack of evidence.” Five files were closed because of lack of culpability.
Of the 22 cases in which the defendants were convicted, six were convicted of murder. The others were convicted of lighter offenses: seven for manslaughter, seven for causing death by negligence (five of whom had initially been charged with manslaughter). Two were convicted of firing in a residential area, for possession of a weapon without a permit, and for endangering persons on a roadway.
Four of the five persons convicted of murder had their sentence reduced, by pardon or shortening of the sentence by the President, or when the Parole Board reduced the sentence by one-third.
The sentences of five of those convicted of manslaughter ranged from 18 months’ to four years’ imprisonment. In another case, the defendant was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years’ imprisonment, and another to six month’s public service.
Five of the seven persons convicted of causing death by negligence were sentenced to public service. The two others were sentenced to five months’ imprisonment and to 18 months’ imprisonment, respectively.

In the other cases: nine are still unresolved and in five cases the defendants were acquitted. (Btselem, Tacit Consent)


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