May 30, 2024

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The United States determines that 5 Israeli security units committed human rights violations before the outbreak of the Gaza war

The United States determines that 5 Israeli security units committed human rights violations before the outbreak of the Gaza war

Menachem Kahane/AFP/Getty Images/File

In this photo taken in 2014, Israeli soldiers from the ultra-Orthodox Netzah Yehuda Battalion participate in their unit's annual training in the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights, near the Syrian border.



CNN

The US State Department determined that five Israeli security units committed serious human rights violations before the outbreak of the crisis The war with Hamas in GazaBut it is still deciding whether military assistance to a unit will be restricted under US law.

The other four “effectively addressed these violations,” Foreign Ministry deputy spokesman Vedant Patil said on Monday, without providing details of those remedial measures.

The United States is still deciding whether to limit military aid to the remaining unit — said to be the ultra-Orthodox Netzah Yehuda Brigade. That battalion was involved in the killing of an elderly Palestinian-American man in January 2022.

“We are continuing consultations and engagements with the government of Israel. “They have provided additional information related to that unit, and we are continuing to have those conversations,” Patel said.

Patel pointed out that “all of these incidents occurred long before October 7, and none of them occurred in Gaza.”

According to an informed source, the Israelis have informed the United States in recent weeks of previously undisclosed measures they have taken, and the United States is reviewing those measures to see if they are sufficient enough to postpone the aid restriction.

In an undated letter to House Speaker Mike Johnson, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said three of the five units are part of the Israeli military and two are “civilian authority units,” and said the violations occurred in the West Bank. .

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The Biden administration has been criticized for appearing to bow to pressure from the Israeli government to postpone any punitive measures against the unit. Senior Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, expressed sharp criticism of reports about the impending action by the United States.

“At a time when our soldiers are fighting the monsters of terrorism, the intention to impose sanctions on an IDF unit is the height of absurdity and moral lowliness,” Netanyahu posted on X last week.

He added, “The government headed by me will take all means against these moves.”

Patel on Monday rejected the idea that Israel was “getting unique treatment” by being given more time to provide information to postpone potential punishment.

“Nothing I have mentioned here is inconsistent with the Leahy process,” he said.

Under the Leahy Act, the United States cannot provide assistance to foreign security units credibly implicated in human rights abuses, but there is an exception “allowing assistance to a unit to resume if the Secretary of State determines and informs Congress that the government of the country is taking effective steps to provide responsible members of the security forces unit.” To justice.

Notably, for one IDF unit, Blinken “determined that there was no effective treatment yet,” he wrote in the letter to Johnson.

“The Israeli government has acknowledged that this unit engaged in behavior inconsistent with IDF rules and, as a result, was transferred from the West Bank to the Golan Heights in 2022,” Blinken wrote, without naming the unit.

The Netzah Yehuda Battalion was transferred from the West Bank to the Golan Heights in 2022. The unit commander was reprimanded In late January 2022 following the death of 78-year-old Palestinian-American Omar Assad, who died of a heart attack after being arrested, bound and gagged, according to the Israeli military. No soldier has faced criminal charges related to Assad's death.

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“The Israeli government has provided new information regarding the status of the unit and we will work to identify a path to effective reform of this unit,” Blinken said in the letter.

Patel did not provide details about when additional information would be provided to the United States. According to an informed source, the Israelis have informed the United States in recent weeks of previously undisclosed measures they have taken, and the United States is reviewing those measures to see if they are sufficient enough to postpone the aid restriction.

Patel also did not provide details about the reform process.

“The standard of treatment is for these countries to take effective steps to bring the responsible party to justice. This varies from one country to another,” he said in a press conference.

This story has been updated with additional details.