In first person: a body of testimonies
Settler violence impacts the daily routine of Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory. In first person brings the testimonies of Palestinians in their own words as documented by Yesh Din since 2005, describing the violence and ongoing harm to their person, property and land by Israeli settlers in the West Bank.
Yesh Din collects testimonies close to the time of the incident, at the site of the incident or at the victim’s home. The testimonies are given in Arabic and translated by Yesh Din’s field researchers into Hebrew. Yesh Din volunteers, who accompany the field workers, document the testimonies in Hebrew. As a rule, testimonies are taken from individuals who were either present at the incident or harmed directly, and not from second-hand witnesses.
The testimonies brought here are a random sampling of thousands of testimonies taken by Yesh Din since 2005 regarding incidents involving Israeli civilians in the West Bank – settlers or others – who harm Palestinians and their property. These are only testimonies involving a criminal offense and cases in which the victim decided to file a police complaint.
The testimonies are the witnesses’ own words as related to Yesh Din. Because these are oral testimonies, parts irrelevant to the incident described may have been omitted. Some of the witnesses chose not to share their name or photograph, fearing further harm by settlers or Israeli authorities.
Yesh Din’s long-term monitoring and research shows that settler violence is ideologically motivated crime. Its main purpose is to dispossess Palestinians of their land and expand the West Bank territory subject to Israelis’ control.
Yesh Din assists the victims of such offenses in filing a complaint with Israeli police when they wish to. Yesh Din’s legal team monitors the progress and outcomes of police investigations until the conclusion of the legal proceedings, if proceedings are initiated.
Approximately 92% of investigation files monitored by Yesh Din concerning offenses committed by Israeli civilians against Palestinians in the West Bank were closed since 2005 without indictments. Analysis of the reasons such investigations are closed points to the Israeli police’s failure to enforce the law upon settlers and bring offenders to trial. Clearly, in most cases the failure to locate perpetrators or consolidate sufficient evidence for bringing offenders to trial does not reflect the true capacities of investigation and enforcement agencies operating in the West Bank – the military, police, Shin Bet and State Attorney’s Office. Rather, it reflects their lack of motivation to do so.
Lack of law enforcement sends a message of impunity to offending settlers and provides support for them. It enables perpetrators to repeat their actions without fearing consequences, knowing that ultimately law enforcement agencies will avoid serving indictments.
Israel’s policy of tolerating ideologically motivated offences – when the offenders are settlers – effectively encourages the violence that continues to dispossess Palestinians. Further, it severely harms Palestinians’ human rights in the West Bank, primarily the right to life and bodily integrity, the right to property and to freedom of movement.
Legally required statement: Yesh Din is mostly funded by foreign governmental entities. A list of our donors is available on the Israeli Associations Register’s website and on our website. Yesh Din is proud to be funded by states that believe, as we do, that the occupation is not an internal Israeli matter and that support the advancement of human rights.