Supreme Court Orders Security Forces to Protect Palestinian Farmers

The Supreme Court orders the IDF and Israel Police to protect Palestinian farmers, and their property, from attacks by violent settlers, and to act immediately and decisively to permanently uproot this phenomenon

The verdict, that was issued today in response to the petition submitted by ACRI and the organization Rabbis for Human Rights, severely criticizes the lax approach displayed by the police and security personnel in their law enforcement work against violent settlers, and ruled that the closure of territory to Palestinians, to protect them from settlers, is akin to granting a prize for violence.

Supreme Court Justices, Dorit Beinisch, Eliezer Rivlin, and Salim Joubran, issued their verdict on the petition that was submitted by ACRI, and the organization, Rabbis for Human Rights, in 2004 by ACRI Attorney Limor Yehuda, in the name of the heads of five village councils in the West Bank. The verdict, that was written by justice Dorit Beinisch, specifically states that the IDF and the Israel Police must take all the necessary measures at their disposal to protect Palestinian farmers who wish to work their land, and to protect their right to ownership. Ensuring the personal safety and the right to ownership of local residents, the court adds, is one of the most basic responsibilities of a military commander in the field. Justice Beinisch also states that despite a certain improvement that has occurred in relation to this issue, the state of affairs is far from satisfactory, and that the results [on the ground] have not been successful in the area of law enforcement against criminal Jewish settlers.

In their verdict, the justices denote the principles that should guide the work of the security forces when dealing with incidents involving violent attacks against Palestinian agricultural workers, and deliberate damage to their property. Firstly, they state, action must be taken to ensure the personal security of the Palestinians, and when required, to physically protect them during the course of their agricultural work. This protection should be provided with the minimum disturbance to their work. Secondly, the verdict adds, clear and unequivocal instructions must be issued to forces deployed in the area as to what action to take to ensure that the farmers are not denied access to their agricultural land, other than in exceptional circumstances. Thirdly, security personnel should be allocated to protect the Palestinian residents’‘ right to ownership, and fourthly – complaints filed by Palestinian residents should be fully investigated as quickly as possible. With regard to this issue, the verdict further states, explicitly, that an investigation must be opened upon receipt of a report of an attack, and patrols (of security personnel) dispatched whose purpose is to uncover such actions. The verdict further states that it is highly doubtful that the police units that were established for this purpose have been provided with all the necessary means to enforce the law. Thus, the verdict continues, the law enforcement investigative and prosecution mechanisms must be upgraded.

The justices also accepted the organizations’‘ claim that the tool of territorial closure, to prevent Palestinian entry to land surrounding Jewish settlements and illegal outposts, had been illegitimately utilized. However, the Supreme Court did not accept the organizations’‘ claim, which was endorsed by a statement of opinion prepared by security experts, that there was no need in the current case to close off territory even when its stated purpose is to protect settlements in the area. The petitioning organizations are disappointed that the Supreme Court chose to disregard their claim that part of the territory that was closed off was in order to defend illegal outposts. It should be noted, however, that as a result of the petition and the ensuing court decisions, there has been a significant reduction in the amount of territory to which Palestinians have been denied entry. The court voiced a particularly severe criticism of the practical methods used to close off areas to Palestinians in cases in which the stated purpose is to protect Palestinian farmers from attacks by local settlers. Justice Beinisch stated in relation to this issue that, “In order to protect Palestinian farmers, the military commander again chose to act against them, even when they are the victims of the attack”. The danger to Palestinians, she clarified, should be prevented by forces that are designated for their protection, and through the imposition of “limitations that will act as an effective measure against individuals who are in breach of the law and attack Palestinians” . Justice Joubran further added in regard to the limitations that were imposed on Palestinians in this context, that they are “akin to the granting of a prize for violence, and that they convey an erroneous message of submission and surrender to the individuals who break the law, even at the price of violating the basic principles upon which the state’‘s governing system is founded”.

last updated : 27/06/06

  • Print
  • email
  • RSS
  • Tumblr
  • Reddit
  • Twitter
  • Facebook

Categories: Social and Economic Rights, The Occupied Territories, Use of Force


Comments are closed.