JERUSALEM (AFP) - The number of inquiries into offences allegedly committed by Israeli soldiers against Palestinians more than doubled last year compared with figures for 2006, an Israeli human rights group said on Sunday.
Last year 351 inquiries were opened against Israeli soldiers suspected of offending Palestinian civilians and their property in the occupied territories.
That figure compared with 152 probes in 2006, said a report by the Yesh Din rights group, based on figures from the criminal investigation division of Israel’s military police.
The offences include abuse, looting, illegal shooting and killing innocent people.
The Tel Aviv-based rights group said while the number of inquiries increased in 2007 so did the failure rate.
In 45 percent of cases the investigators could not identify the specific unit and soldiers suspected of the offence.
In 2006, the failure rate of investigations was about 22 percent.
Since the launch of the Palestinian intifada, or uprising, in September 2000 up to April this year, there have been more than 1,000 cases of suspected criminal offences by Israeli soldiers.
Only 140 investigations resulted in indictments.
In 110 cases soldiers were found guilty of an offence, while in 20 cases the soldiers were acquitted or the prosecution withdrew the charges.
The remaining 10 cases have not yet been concluded.
Yesh Din says the aim of its project was "to increase the transparency of law enforcement procedures."
It was also "to make the information available in order to allow the public to assess — for the first time — whether and to what extent the IDF is fulfilling its duty to protect the civilian population that is not involved in the fighting," the report said.
Since the 1967 Middle East war, Israeli Defence Forces (IDF, or army) have occupied the West Bank and up until September 2005 the Gaza Strip.
Yesh Din, founded in 2005, is comprised of volunteers opposed to the continuing violation of Palestinian human rights in the occupied territories.
In its report the group also ranked Israeli military units to show those most often suspected of anti-Palestinian offences.
In 2006-2007, the Kfir Brigade composed of six battalions deployed in the West Bank were implicated in 66 investigations, followed by the Paratroopers Brigade and its four battalions in 52 inquiries.