Palestinians residing in area “B,” area “C,” H-2 in Hebron, and isolated Jerusalem neighborhoods struggle to survive in an environment lacking security and rule of law and hold the Palestinian Authority responsible for their protection and demand Palestinian police presence in their areas

Findings of four special polls on security and rule of law in West Bank territories, particularly those outside area “A”

June-December 2016

The Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) conducted four special polls during the period between June and December 2016. The polls focused on conditions of security and rule of law in the West Bank, particularly in areas classified as “B” and “C” and other similar areas. The first poll was conducted in June in all areas of the West Bank; the second in August in areas outside Palestinian areas classified as “A,” specifically the following: B, C, H2 in Hebron, and isolated East Jerusalem neighborhoods. The third poll was conducted in December in all West Bank areas and the fourth was conducted also in December and included areas outside “A."

The polls are part of a larger study that seeks to compare security and rule of law conditions in area “A” with those in areas outside it. Additionally, the study seeks to identify security and rule of law needs in non-A areas. The period in question witnessed significant reduction in the level of popular Palestinian confrontations and stabbing attacks against Israelis. But the West Bank witnessed a number of internal security breakdowns resulting from security incidents taking place mostly in the northern part, in places like Yabad and Nablus, leading to death of several Palestinians and two security officers. The same period witnessed the launching of several security campaigns carried out by the Palestinian security forces in various West Bank areas including those in B and C areas.

For further details, contact PSR director, Dr. Khalil Shikaki, or Walid Ladadweh at tel. 02-296 4933 or email pcpsr@pcpsr.org.

Methodology:

The four polls mentioned above are part of a larger policy study that seeks to provide an assessment of security and rule of law needs in Palestinian areas located outside area “A.” The study relies on public attitude polls, focus groups with residents of the various areas under examination, and case studies that place special focus on highlighted needs. Given the constraints imposed on PA security deployment and jurisdiction, the study seeks to provide policy recommendations to the PA and its security services on the best means to meet public needs for security in the areas under investigation.

All findings indicated in this report were obtained from the four separate West Bank polls mentioned above. The first and third polls included a representative sample of all West Bankers, including those residing in area A. The second and fourth polls was restricted to non-A areas. The first poll was conducted during the period between 2 and 4 June 2016 and the sample was 830 adults interviewed face to face in 83 randomly selected locations.

The second poll was conducted during the period between 4 and 20 August 2016 and sample size was 2107 adults interviewed face to face in 131 randomly selected locations in the following four areas: (1) Area B, where 1170 adults were interviewed in 59 locations; (2) Area C, where 697 adults were interviewed in 60 locations; (3) isolated East Jerusalem neighborhoods (excluded from the city by the separation wall), such as Kofr Aqab, Shufat refugee camp, Qalandia, and others, where 200 adults were interviewed in 19 locations; and (4) H2 area of Hebron, where 40 adults were interviewed in two locations. The sample of the second poll is representative of Palestinian citizens residing outside area A. The margin of error is 3%. The sample of the second poll was reweighted to insure proportional representation of the four areas in question.

The third poll was conducted during the period between 8 and 10 December 2016 and the sample size was 830 adults interviewed in 83 randomly selected locations. The fourth poll was conducted during the period between 24 November and 7 December 2016 among a random sample of 1490 adults interviewed in 134 location in the same four areas covered by the second poll. These are: (1) Area B, where 590 adults were interviewed in 59 locations, (2) Area C, where 600 adults were interviewed in 60 locations, (3) isolated East Jerusalem neighborhoods where 200 adults were interviewed in 10 locations, and (4) H2 area where 100 adults were interviewed in five locations. This sample is a representative one for Palestinians residing in “A” and non-A areas. As the case of the second poll, the sample of the fourth poll was reweighted to insure proportional representation of the four areas in question.

 

Main Findings:

The following review draws from data from the four polls. But its main focus is on the two December polls. Findings are divided based on five topics: 

  1. A comparative assessment of security and rule of law conditions in area A and those areas outside it.
  2. An assessment of security threats and those related to rule of law confronting Palestinians residing in B, C, and other areas.
  3. Public perception of the role and performance of the Palestinian police and courts in providing protection and enforcing rule of law.
  4. Public perception of the Palestinian judiciary and justice system in non-A areas.
  5. Public attitudes regarding ways and means of assuring security and law enforcement in those areas lacking effective Palestinian police presence.

Findings clearly indicate that West Bank residents of non-A areas feel less safe and secure than those residing in area A. Moreover, due to the lack of trust among the residents of non-A areas in the ability of the Palestinian police serve them quickly, they are less likely to turn to the police and more likely to resort to their families than area A residents. Similarly, residents of non-A areas are less likely than residents of area A to trust the ability of the Palestinian judiciary and system of justice to resolve disputes.

Residents of non-A areas complain of various threats that include car theft, drug trafficking, violations of building codes, lack of investment, armed attacks by other Palestinians, and settlers’ violence. Domestic violence against women and denial of women rights are frequently reported by residents. Many indicate that they are afraid to walk out of their homes at night. Indeed, they also report that some of their neighbors have been forced to move out of their areas to more secure areas of the West Bank. Residents of H2 area of Hebron emerge as the most insecure followed by residents of the isolated East Jerusalem neighborhoods. They are also likely to report greater suffering from crimes, such as theft, murder, drugs, and assault, than residents of area B and area C. Other threats reported by residents of non-A areas include delays at Israeli checkpoints, military closures, land confiscation, demolishing of homes, and eviction from homes.

Residents of non-A areas have a great deal of confidence in the Palestinian police and consider it responsible for their protection. They demand the opening of police stations and/or the deployment of daily police patrols in their areas of residence. In places that witnessed recent opening of new Palestinian police stations, residents report significant improvement in security and safety conditions. Residents of area B are most likely to be satisfied with the performance of the Palestinian police while residents of H2 are the least likely to be satisfied. But residents report difficulties in communicating with the Palestinian police and complain of various problems that include, for example, a slow response, a weak follow up, and a lack of privacy when complaining to the police. Many report that women are unable to reach and submit complaints to the police and are less likely to receive protection.

Residents of non-A areas are likely to trust traditional mechanisms of justice than the formal system of justice. They are much more likely to resort to “reform committees” than to courts; mostly because they overwhelmingly believe that the Palestinian courts are very slow in resolving disputes. They also tend to believe that because they live outside area A, they do not receive equal treatment from the justice system.

The overwhelming majority of respondents in non-A areas believe that the deployment of Palestinian police in their neighborhood is sufficient to resolve their problems and insure their security. In the absence of such deployment, they are likely to support alternative mechanisms such as the establishment of local civil guard units that coordinate with and report to the Palestinian police. Some support the establishment of local security units that report to the local councils. In other to strengthen the role and performance of the Palestinian police, residents support extending police jurisdiction so that it can treat East Jerusalem residents the same way it treats all other Palestinians in the West Bank. They also support continued coordination with the Israeli authorities in order to allow the Palestinian police access to roads and areas throughout the non-A areas of the West Bank. 

 

(1) Comparing area A with non-A areas:

Perception of security: Perception of personal and family safety and security among residents of area A stood at 52% in June 2016 increasing to 64% in December. On the other hand, among residents of areas outside A, it stood at 38% in June and 48% in December, see figure 1 below. As the figure shows, residents of the isolated Jerusalem neighborhoods and H2 feels least secured followed by residents of area C and area B. The figure also shows that security conditions between August and December have improved in all areas except the isolated Jerusalem neighborhoods.

Type of threats inside and outside area A: As we found in June, the December findings, as seen in figure 2, show two types of threats: those arising from the Israeli occupation and those from local conditions:   53% of the residents of non-A areas, compared to only 21% of area A residents, complain essentially from occupation-related threats (such as settlers violence, checkpoints, incursions, home demolition, and others).  By contrast, Area A residents’ complaints focus on local threats, such as theft, security chaos, and infrastructural problems, mentioned by 35% compared to 23% among non-A residents. Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that while 35% of residents of area A indicate that they do not have any threats, the equivalent percentage among the residents of non-A area is 19% only. These findings confirm those obtained six months before, in June 2016.

 

Reliance on the Palestinian police:  In June 2016, 57% of the residents of area A, compared to 38% among non-A residents, indicated that they rely on and go to the Palestinian police and other security services when facing a problem or attack. December findings show a similar pattern (54% to 35%). Figure (3) below shows that the largest percentage of those residing outside area A rely on and go the family and notables (or traditional leaders). Residents of area A seem to rely on the Palestine more than the others due to the prevailing view among them that the police will most likely respond quickly as the findings show that 62% among them believe in that compared to only 47% among the non-A area residents.

Courts and rule of law: We asked the public in all Palestinian territories about three issues related to the courts and the justice system: the ability of the courts to resolve disputes, the courts’ speed in resolving disputes, and the implementation of court decisions. The December findings indicate that 65% of area A residents, compared to 57% on non-A residents, believe that if a dispute arises with other Palestinians, Palestinian courts would be able to resolve that dispute. Our June findings were similar, see figure 4. Nonetheless, residents in all areas of the West Bank believe that the Palestinian courts are likely to be slow in issuing decisions: 86% in area A and 78% in all other areas. If courts issue decisions, 69% of residents in area A and 57% of residents of non-A areas believe that they are likely to be implemented. These findings too are similar to those obtained earlier in June.


(2) Nature of threats prevailing in non-A areas:

Categories of threats: Large majorities of the residents of non-A areas believe that their areas suffer from numerous problems and threats. Three came on top of those threats in December, with each mentioned by 81% of the residents: car theft, drug trafficking, and armed assault by Palestinians against other Palestinians.  Violation of building and zoning codes was mentioned by 80%, lack of investments and developmental projects by 77%, use of area as safe haven for outlaws by 77%, drug trafficking for school kids by 77%, armed settlers attacks by 75%, and attacks on women by family members by 58%. (For a comparison with the August findings, see figure 5 below). ..