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Is the U.S. Going To Sanction an IDF Battalion for Human Rights Abuses?

April 21, 2024 (EIRNS)—A report that the U.S. is about to announce sanctions against a unit of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) went off like a bombshell in Israel yesterday. According to Israeli journalist Barak Ravid, writing in Axios and citing three sources “with knowledge of the issue,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected within days to announce sanctions against the IDF “Netzah Yehuda” battalion for human rights violations in the occupied West Bank. If such sanctions are indeed announced, it would be the first time the U.S. imposed sanctions on an Israeli military unit. The sanctions will ban the battalion and its members from receiving any kind of U.S. military assistance or training, the sources said.

The sanctions would be based on incidents that occurred in the West Bank, where the battalion was based, before Oct. 7. Ravid’s report itself was sparked by an investigation published by ProPublica on April 17, which reported that a special panel in the State Department made the determination that the Netzah Yehuda unit was responsible for human rights violations and should be subject to U.S. sanctions under the 1990s Leahy Laws was made months ago but that Blinken was refusing to act on it. “If we had been applying Leahy effectively in Israel like we do in other countries, maybe you wouldn’t have the IDF filming TikToks of their war crimes now because we have contributed to a culture of impunity,” said Josh Paul, a former director in the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs and a member of the vetting forum. Paul resigned in protest shortly after Israel began its bombing campaign of Gaza in October.

Ravid notes that during a press conference in Italy on April 19, Blinken was asked about the recommendation and said he had made determinations based on the panel investigation.

“You can expect to see them in the days ahead,” Blinken said.

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