US To Sanction Entire IDF Battalion Over Alleged Human Rights Abuses

US To Sanction Entire IDF Battalion Over Alleged Human Rights Abuses

Axios is reporting what marks an unexpected and unprecedented development in US-Israel relations: the Biden administration will in the coming days announce sanctions against an entire battalion of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Three US officials told the outlet that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will unveil the punitive measures against the IDF’s “Netzah Yehuda” battalion for its allegedly committing human rights abuses against Palestinians in the West Bank. It is an ultra orthodox brigade founded in 1999 in coordination with rabbis who sought to allow easier entry into the military of a religious community which typically rejects national service.

Soldiers of the Neztah Yehuda Battalion in training. Source: Flash90

The controversial battalion has also served in Gaza Strip operations, as well as in the north of Israel. The Times of Israel has highlighted, “The battalion has been at the center of several controversies in the past connected to right-wing extremism and violence against Palestinians, notably including the 2022 death of Omar As’ad, a 78-year-old Palestinian-American who died after being detained, handcuffed, blindfolded, and later abandoned in near-freezing conditions by soldiers of the battalion.”

Blinken on Friday appeared to confirm that the sanctions are imminent. “You can expect to see them in the days ahead,” Blinken said in response to a question about potential Leahy law violations. The 1997 law bans the possibility of US foreign aid or DOD training programs going to foreign entities found to have committed human rights abuses.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately blasted the coming US move in a Saturday message on X, writing:

“The IDF must not be sanctioned!” he wrote on X. “I’ve been working in recent weeks against the sanctioning of Israeli citizens, including in my conversations with the American administration.”

“At a time when our soldiers are fighting terrorist monsters, the intention to issue sanctions against a unit in the IDF is the height of absurdity and a moral low,” he added, committing to fight the move.”

President Biden is under immense and growing pressure going into November, as many Democrats are increasingly outraged at the soaring civilian death toll and near daily headlines of atrocities among families in Gaza. Yet all along he’s resisted so much as attaching conditions to defense aid, and is reportedly even considering another $1BN+ weapons package for Tel Aviv.

According to Axios, “The sanctions will ban the battalion and its members from receiving any kind of U.S. military assistance or training, the sources said.”

Other controversial police or military units which have long been accused of human rights violations are said by the US administration to have lately changed their behavior, and so none others will target of the new sanctions, Axios notes. According to more background on the Netzah Yehuda battalion

Over the years, the unit stationed in the West Bank became a destination for many “Hilltop Youth” — young radical right wing settlers who weren’t accepted into any other combat unit in the IDF.

On Friday the US slapped a new round of sanctions on Israel’s radical settler movement, this time targeting a pair of entities accused of fundraising for already sanctioned individuals.

“The Biden administration on Friday imposed sanctions on two entities accused of fundraising for extremist Israel settlers already sanctioned, as well as the founder of an organization whose members regularly assault Palestinians,” Associated Press reported Friday.

Violence in the West Bank is at a high point as Israeli forces have been conducting large-scale raids, also in the wake of the murder of 14-year-old Israeli Binyamin Achimair. This weekend, 14 Palestinians have been reported killed after an Israeli security raid on Nur Shams refugee camp in the West Bank.

Tyler Durden
Sun, 04/21/2024 – 11:05 Source

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