State Comptroller finds lack of law enforcement for traffic, construction violations, illegal theft of water in West Bank; reveals major shortage of ABC kits

Yaron Druckman
Published: 07.17.13, 19:47 / Israel News

State Comptroller Judge Joseph Shapira has released his annual report Wednesday, revealing a string of failures in the field of security, specifically in the State’s and IDF’s management of law enforcement in the West Bank, the manner the IDF and Defense Ministry disclose issues pertaining to their budgets, and the Home Front Command’s is preparing the home front for non-conventional warfare.

Regarding the West Bank, the report revealed major shortcomings in the fields of law enforcement in Judea and Samaria, specifically in the fields of building, sanitation, water and traffic, as well as management of State lands. According to the comptroller, the majority of problems stem from issues that need to be addressed by their respective ministers, and the current conditions render the West Bank lawless in certain fields and costs the State millions in losses.

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Regarding the defense budget, the comptroller argued the Finance Ministry’s Budget Division fails to update its parallel governmental committee in changes regarding non-classified materials. According to the report, despite the government’s decision that any budgetary change ranging from five to NIS 50 million ($4-14 million) requires the division to formally inform the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, the finance ministry ignores the decision and continually fails to do so, leaving major budgetary shifts unknown and unaccounted for.

מבקר המדינה מגיש את הדו”ח ליו”ר הכנסת וליו”ר ועדת הביקורת (צילום: חיים צח)

2013 Comptroller Report (Photo: Haim Zach)

Judge Shapira also found major discrepancies in the information passed on by the Defense Ministry to Knesset committee, thus hindering legislators ability to supervise the defense budget.

אגף התקציבים במשרד הביטחון מדלג על ההחלטה (צילום: דנה קופל)

Defense Ministry HQ (Photo: Dafna Kopel)

Regarding the Home Front Command, the comptroller found that a large portion of Israel’s citizens are not protected in the case of an attack by non-conventional weapons. Despite the fact that it was decided in 2009 that within two years every citizen in Israel will have an ABC kit, it was revealed that the current reserves fall short of the number of citizens.

The report also found failures in the coordination between the different bodies involved in the kits’ distribution, as well as in the alert systems intended to warn citizens in case of an attack.

Wild West Bank

Regarding the West Bank, the comptroller painted a very disturbing picture on law enforcement, or lack thereof, both in regards to Israelis and Palestinians.

Specifically, the comptroller found that the Police and the Civil Administration’s Inspection Unit refused to open criminal proceedings against zoning and construction offenses throughout Judea and Samaria. He also found that both Israeli and Palestinian offenders in this field are not prosecuted at all because both bodies claim it does not fall under their responsibility.

The result, the comptroller wrote, is that the West Bank area is completely lacking in regulatory or investigatory authorities and hence residents, both Israelis and Palestinians, do as they please.

“אין ביו”ש גוף המופקד על חקירת עבירות של תכנון ובנייה” (צילום: AFP)

No construction enforcment (Photo: Comptroller’s Office)

He also noted that to a lack of coordination between the IDF and the police.

Despite the fact that the 1994 Shamgar Committee demanded clear directives to be produced regarding the cooperation between the police and the IDF in this field, the comptroller found that because the IDF is better located in the field and tends to reach crime scenes faster than police do, they fail to collect evidence or pass on information to the police, thus effectively damaging the ability to prosecute or convict offenders.

The report also noted failures in the two bodies’ enforcement of criminal offenses related to the environment thus posing a threat both to nature and to the health of local residents.

Water theft

The report also focused on the widespread phenomenon of water theft in the West Bank.

צינור שממנו נגנבו מים (צילום: משרד מבקר המדינה)

Pipe with theft signs (Photo: Comptroller’s Office)

According to the comptroller, a large number of civil, military and police units are involved in enforcing the law in this regard, but administrative problems – specifically the lack of a single organizing and coordinating body – create a void allowing water theft and illegal water drilling to become prevalent.

The comptroller also found that some crops, mostly Palestinian grown, still have remnants of pesticides not allowed on the Israeli market, but these crops are ‘laundered’ by being sold to Israeli packaging and passed on to Israeli markets as Israeli grown crops.

In terms of traffic offenses, the report found that since 2008, the Judea and Samria Military Advocate General (MAG) stopped prosecuting offenses related to driving barring those ending in death or hit-and-runs. To add insult to injury this decision has been done without coordination with police.

In his concluding chapter on the West Bank, the comptroller wrote that the massive list of shortcomings stems, among others, from the lack of delineation of responsibilities between the plenum of organizations and bodies active in the West Bank, among them the IDF, the police, the Civil Administration, the Water Authority and more.

Neglecting land

The most financially painful finding in the comptroller’s report was the list of failures regarding monument of State lands in the West Bank.

According to the report, the government appointee for this matter fails to properly sign contracts with settlers leasing agricultural lands, Israelis working on land belonging to Palestinians, as well as recurring failure to collect rent.

“The result of this ongoing negligence and lack of enforcement is a loss of hundreds of millions of NIS every year,” the comptroller wrote. He also named those responsible for fixing the failures, specifically naming Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz , Israel Land Administration head Bentzi Lieberman and Brigadier General Eitan Dangot, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

In response, the IDF Spokesperson Unit stated: “The IDF welcomes the report. The IDF’s main mission in the Judea and Samaria region is protecting the residents and persevering stability. In addition, the IDF is also charged with protecting the public order, and this includes law enforcement. This responsibility is instilled in each and every soldier and commander before they are deployed, and it is a skill practiced before operations, together with the police and with the Border Guard. Successful enforcement requires coordination and commitment between all of the law enforcing bodies as well as the government.”

The IDF promised to look into the technical shortcomings.

In response to the report, the Defense Ministry noted: “Civil supervision over the defense budget is extensive, despite the security classification demanded in managing a security budget. Defense and Finance Ministry officials are in ongoing dialogue, both verbal and written, and any change in the budget is not passed on to the Knesset until the Finance Ministry receives answers to the preliminary questions it has requested. During Knesset committee proceedings, budgetary changes are reported in full transparency with all the required explanations, and any question posed by any committee member is answered.”

The ministry further said that “following the report’s notes, the defense establishment will work to create computerized supervision systems.”,7340,L-4406441,00.html