Abir Dandis, the mother of the two girls who were murdered in the Negev town of Al-Furaía last week, couldn't find a police officer to listen to her warnings, neither in Arad nor in Maíale Adumim. Both police stations operate in areas where Israel wants to gather the Bedouin into permanent communities, against their will, in order to clear more land for Jewish communities. The dismissive treatment Dandis received shows how the Bedouin are considered simply to be lawbreakers by their very nature. But as a resident of the West Bank asking for help for her daughters, whose father was Israeli, Dandis faced the legal-bureaucratic maze created by the Oslo Accords.
The Palestinian police is not allowed to arrest Israeli civilians. It must hand suspects over to the Israel Police. The Palestinian police complain that in cases of Israelis suspected of committing crimes against Palestinian residents, the Israel Police tend not to investigate or prosecute them.
In addition, the town of Al-Azaria, where Dandis lives, is in Area B, under Palestinian civilian authority and Israeli security authority. According to the testimony of Palestinian residents, neither the IDF nor the Israel Police has any interest in internal Palestinian crime even though they have both the authority and the obligation to act in Area B.
The Palestinian police are limited in what it can do in Area B. Bringing in reinforcements or carrying weapons in emergency situations requires coordination with, and obtaining permission from, the IDF. If Dandis fears that the man who murdered her daughters is going to attack her as well, she has plenty of reason to fear that she will not receive appropriate, immediate police protection from either the Israelis or the Palestinians.
Dandis told Jack Khoury of Haaretz that the Maíale Adumim police referred her to the Palestinian Civil Affairs Coordination and Liaison Committee. Theoretically, this committee (which is subordinate to the Civil Affairs Ministry) is the logical place to go for such matters. Its parallel agency in Israel is the Civilian Liaison Committee (which is part of the Coordination and Liaison Administration - a part of the Civil Administration under the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories).
In their meetings, they are supposed to discuss matters such as settlersí complaints about the high volume of the loudspeakers at mosques or Palestiniansí complaints about attacks by settlers. But the Palestinians see the Liaison Committee as a place to submit requests for permission to travel to Israel, and get the impression that its clerks do not have much power when faced with their Israeli counterparts. In any case, the coordination process is cumbersome and long.
The Palestinian police has a family welfare unit, and activists in Palestinian womenís organizations say that in recent years, its performance has improved. But, as stated, it has no authority over Israeli civilians and residents. Several non-governmental womenís groups also operate in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, and women in similar situations approach them for help. The manager of one such organization told Haaretz that Dandis also fell victim to this confusing duplication of procedures and laws. Had Dandis approached her, she said, she would have referred her to Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, which has expertise in navigating Israelís laws and authorities.