According to one prolific contributor to Yahoo Answers:

So-called "Israeli settlers" can shoot Palestinians at will without fear of prosecution so you do want a lot of doctors,and although it rarely does any good an attorney can at least try to keep your home from demolition because you aren't of the "right" ethnicity or religion.

Note: The same author makes other claims, like the brother of PLO's representative in the U.S., Michael Tarazi, was crucified on the hood of an Israeli jeep in 1988. I couldn't find any other source corroborating that either.

Is it true that Israeli settlers can or have shot Palestinians without any legal reprisal?

  • 4
    Do you have a bit more than a single post on Yahoo Answers showing notability?
    – Mad Scientist
    Apr 8 '12 at 9:07
  • Actually no. And I seriously doubt the statement. However, there are many similar claims where Israel are supposedly "evil" that's disproved latter. Crucifixion on the jeep is another issue that I can't find anywhere else on the web.
    – user4951
    Apr 8 '12 at 9:19
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    Actually, it is the opposite. The Israeli government will arrest and imprison its citizens who engage in violence, but the Palestinian government actually pays a generous stipend to its citizens incarcerated for violence carried out against Israelis. jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/… Feb 16 '14 at 9:07
  • You failed to say if the answer should be how it is in theory or how it is in reality.
    – liftarn
    Aug 19 '14 at 13:34

In short NO. The longer answer is that while many things are not allowed, in a conflict zone, like in all wars, soldiers and other participants sometimes do things that are not allowed. In the cases where the (Israeli) authorities learn about it, they prosecute the offenders to the full extent of the law, just like other Western democracies treat violations in a time of war.

Most of the sources I'll present will be in Hebrew, and I'll try to give a translation of what I consider to be the most important parts.

On the site of the peace organisation Hamoked given the story of Shlomo Adir, a settler from Ptzael who shot a Palestinian worker to death:

At that time Shlomo Adir, the guard of Ptzael, noticed two [Palestinian] workers in the field and suspected them to be thieves... Adir entered the area of the greenhouses and called them to stop with a loudspeaker, stepped out of the car, loaded his weapon and shot approximately 10 shots at the air, immediately after he saw one of the workers next to him and shot three bullets at his upper body from close range resulting in his immediate death.


In March 2008, Adir was convicted in a court in negligent manslaughter and was sentenced for 200 hours of community service, conditioned incarceration and compensation to the victim's family of 25,000 NIS. The judge ruled that Adir opened fire too quickly and in a negligent matter. Appeals that Adir filed in higher courts and the Supreme court were rejected.


On the 25/11/2010, 7.5 years after the deadly and unnecessary shooting, an agreement was reached in court saying that the shooter and the settlement Ptzael would pay 763,670 NIS to the victims family as compensation.

Here are some links to occurrences where Israeli military personal were charged for killing Palestinians:

Border police officer who shot a Palestinian boy charged with negligent manslaughter (in English)

Lieutenant colonel is charged with negligent manslaughter in Jenin (in Hebrew)

There are many more examples. The Hebrew Wikipedia has an article about Jewish terrorism and in it a section of Jewish terrorism against Arabs. All of the people performing such acts who survived them were prosecuted and sentenced.

Another act is the act of price tag where settlers go and hurt Arab property as a "price tag" for an action of the Israeli government against them. Those acts are also dealt with by the law authorities.

So the answer to your first question is no. Neither settlers nor anybody else can go around shooting or hurting Palestinians and Arabs without consequences.

As to your second question, it's possible that what Michael Tarazi describes happened to him, but, if it happened it was the act of rogue soldiers. If the authorities learned about it they dealt with the offenders, and Tarazi can follow legal actions against the perpetrators and the state of Israel for compensation.

  • There are many more sources to other relevant cases, I can't bring them all.
    – SIMEL
    Apr 8 '12 at 14:23
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    Is there a case that works the other way around? Palestinians shoot israelites and get convicted by Hamas or what's the other guy?
    – user4951
    Apr 9 '12 at 5:23
  • I couldn't find any other sources about crucifixion in jeep. Michael Tarazi is most likely untrue, but I could be wrong.
    – user4951
    Apr 9 '12 at 5:24
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    @Jim. I've checked now, and apparently, that it's not illegal to harm Israeli citizens. I'm not entirely sure, so I won't write it in the answer, but. Hamas, which rules the Gaza strip, is a terrorist organization. And the Phatah, which rules the western bank is a former terrorist organization, that still took part in committing terrorist actions against Israeli civilians. In the west bank the territory is divided to 3 areas, A- full Palestinian control, C - full Israeli control, B- Palestinian civilian control and Israeli security control. Continue in next comment...
    – SIMEL
    Apr 11 '12 at 10:04
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    Examples are the killers of Rehavam Zeevi (Israeli MP and minister who was assassinated by Palestinian assassins and were to Jericho jail for a short time due to Israeli military action and ultimatum, and eventually were arrested and tried in Israel. And the people who committed the 2000 Ramallah lynching, who were not arrested at all by the PLO and only by Israel. You must remember that the Palestinians are in a conflict with Israel where their main tactic of war was and still is attacks against Israel's civilian population. They will not act against it because it's their own tactic.
    – SIMEL
    Apr 11 '12 at 10:25

It is certainly not legal for settlers to shoot Palestinians, and if a settler is found to do so, he or she will be tried under Israeli law. The question is how strong enforcement is.

The settlers are in an area that has never been annexed to Israel. I will use the term settler for all Israeli civilians living outside the armistice lines of 1967 and outside Jerusalem, which has been annexed by Israel. In particular, this includes people living in outposts that are not considered to be legal by Israeli law.

Since settlers are outside the area annexed by Israel, they are formally subject to military law. In effect, by a regulation enacted in 1967, Israeli citizens are subjet to Israeli law and Palestinians to military law. Here is an entry on the dual system of law on the homepage of the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem. The enforcement of law against Israeli citizens is, with some exceptions, not done by the military but by the police. According to B'Tselem:

Israeli security forces have done little to prevent settler violence or to arrest offenders. Many acts of violence have never been investigated; in other cases, investigations have been drawn out and resulted in no action being taken against anyone. According to B'Tselem's follow-up with the Israel Police on incidents in which settlers injured Palestinians or Palestinian property in the years 2007-2010, 67 percent of investigation files opened have been closed date; indictments were filed in 8 percent of cases regarding which B'Tselem wrote to the police. In cases where settlers were tried and convicted, they were generally given extremely light sentences – in stark contrast to the policy of law enforcement and punishment where Palestinians harm Israelis.

Many Palestinians avoid filing a complaint with the police for injury at the hands of settlers, among other reasons, because they do not trust the Israeli legal system. The police usually refuse to investigate an incident unless a complaint is filed, even if they are informed of it by other sources.

On the case of settlers actually shooting at Palestinians, one can find lots of evidence on the B'Tselem entry on violence by settlers, including video material showing settlers firing on Palestinians in the presence of non-interviening sodiers and examples of cases that were closed after very little investigation. I would suggest looking through the extensive video material.

Since the answer of Ilya Melamed also discussed military violence against Palestinians, it is worth pointing out that military information is classified, soldiers are not allowed to speak about their experiences. There is however an organization, Breaking the Silence, that collects hundreds of testimonies from Israeli soldiers, most of them anonymously. There are also non-anonymous testimonies, including video testimonies of soldiers commiting war crimes. There are testimonies of unjustified killings that never got investigated. Also, the rules of engaement the soldiers are subjected to are classified. As such, it is very hard to figure out for the public whether an israeli soldier killing a Palestinian did so within the rules he or she is subjected to, or not.

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