Israeli Officials Lash Out Over Potential U.S. Sanctions on Military Unit

Israeli Officials Lash Out Over Potential U.S. Sanctions on Military Unit

Israeli troopers from the Netzah Yehuda battalion holding morning prayers in 2014.Credit…Menahem Kahana/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The United States is contemplating imposing sanctions on a number of Israeli battalions accused of human rights violations throughout operations within the occupied West Bank, in response to an individual conversant in the deliberations.

Israeli leaders, together with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on Saturday referred to as the opportunity of the Biden administration’s putting such sanctions “the height of absurdity and an ethical low” at a time when Israeli forces are preventing a battle in Gaza towards Hamas. Mr. Netanyahu stated in a social media post that his authorities would “act by all means” towards any such transfer.

The information in regards to the doable sanctions, reported earlier by Axios, got here solely a day after the House permitted $26 billion for Israel and humanitarian help for civilians in battle zones, together with Gaza. The sanctions, if imposed, wouldn’t maintain up the army help that was simply permitted in Congress.

The doable imposition of sanctions towards the Netzah Yehuda and different battalions would come below the so-called 1997 Leahy Law, which bans international army items accused of human rights violations from receiving U.S. help or coaching.

It was not clear what sensible impression any sanctions might need, provided that funding of particular Israeli items is difficult to trace and the battalions in query don’t obtain American coaching. But such a punitive transfer would clearly sting, particularly coming from Israel’s closest ally.

Netzah Yehuda, which has been accused of violence towards Palestinians within the West Bank previously, was established for ultra-Orthodox Jewish males whose strict spiritual observance calls for that women and men be separated. The battalion has attracted different Orthodox troopers as properly, together with hard-line nationalists from the West Bank settler motion.

One of essentially the most egregious episodes attributed to the Netzah Yehuda battalion concerned the demise of a 78-year-old Palestinian-American man who was detained, gagged and handcuffed by members of the unit in an evening raid on his village in January 2022.

An post-mortem confirmed that the person, Omar Abdelmajed Assad, had died from a stress-induced coronary heart assault introduced on by accidents he sustained whereas he was detained. An investigation by the Israeli army’s justice system discovered failures within the conduct of the troopers concerned, who, the army stated, “acted in a way that didn’t correspond with what’s required and anticipated of” Israeli troopers.

The Israeli army disciplined three of the unit’s commanders after the investigation. But no prison prices had been introduced towards the troopers as a result of, the army stated on the time, no causal hyperlink was discovered between Mr. Assad’s demise and the failures of the troopers’ conduct.

The Biden administration has been placing Israel on discover over rising ranges of settler violence towards Palestinians and anti-settlement activists within the occupied West Bank, imposing monetary and journey sanctions on a number of folks and, most lately, on two grass-roots organizations elevating funds for a few of these people.

Benny Gantz, a centrist member of Mr. Netanyahu’s battle cupboard and a former army chief, stated imposing sanctions on Israeli army items would set “a harmful precedent.”

The fierce denunciations got here simply hours after Israeli officers welcomed the bipartisan vote in Congress to approve billions of {dollars} in help for Israel, underscoring the dramatic swings and contradictions which have characterised latest relations between President Biden and Mr. Netanyahu.

Mr. Biden has chided Mr. Netanyahu over civilian deaths in Gaza whereas nonetheless coming to Israel’s help in repelling an assault this month from Iran and offering weapons used within the battle in Gaza.

Mr. Biden has confronted months of criticism and fury — even from some members of his personal party — over his backing of Israel’s battle in Gaza because the demise toll there has climbed, and any imposition of sanctions towards an Israeli unit may very well be seen as a sort of counterweight. More than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed through the six months of battle, in response to Gazan well being officers.

Mick Mulroy, a former C.I.A. officer and senior Pentagon official, stated putting such sanctions on an in depth ally like Israel can be uncommon, so “it ought to ship a message.”

Natan Odenheimer and Gabby Sobelman contributed reporting.



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