U.S. Considers Sanctions on IDF Battalion for Alleged Human Rights Abuses

(RepublicanNews.org) – U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, has imposed sanctions on an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) battalion stationed in the West Bank over allegations of human rights abuses dating back to 2022.

The allegations, all of which date from before the October 7th massacre by Hamas, include one incident in which an 80-year-old Palestinian man died. Omar Asad was found dead on the roadside in January 2022, hours after being detained by the Netzah Yehuda Battalion at a checkpoint near Ramallah. Asad resisted a search, and soldiers handcuffed and gagged him before setting him down on the road and leaving him there until he was discovered dead a few hours later.

The IDF referred to the incident as a “moral failure” and dismissed the company and platoon commander of the soldiers involved with immediate effect. A criminal investigation was opened but ultimately dropped without any of the soldiers responsible facing prosecution. Blinken, making use of the Leahy Law, has chosen to place sanctions on the battalion, which will mean the unit will not receive any U.S. aid or training. Blinken has not placed sanctions on several other IDF units implicated in the human rights abuse allegations, as following the U.S. investigation that began in 2022, he believes that the other units have changed their behavior sufficiently.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed outrage at the decision to sanction the Netzah Yehuda Battalion, which is made up entirely of ultra-orthodox Haredi Jewish men. Haredi men have been historically exempt from the military draft in Israel while receiving state funding to study the Torah, an exemption that has been subject to much debate in Israel in light of the ongoing war in Gaza.

Netanyahu claimed that sanctioning the unit, which has since been redeployed from the West Bank to the border with Gaza, was unfair and poorly timed, and vowed to fight the decision. Israeli minister Benny Gantz, who sits in his country’s War Cabinet, asked Blinken to reconsider, saying that the sanctions could hurt Israel’s legitimacy as it continued to fight Hamas in Gaza.

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