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In first, US expected to sanction IDF battalion for ‘human rights violations’ – report

Ultra-Orthodox unit ‘Netzah Yehuda’ was accused of violence toward civilians

Israeli soldiers from the Netzah Yehuda Battalion patrol near the Israeli-Gaza border, Oct. 20, 2023. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

One battalion of the Israel Defense Forces is expected to be the target of the latest round of U.S. sanctions against Israel, the Axios news outlet reported on Saturday evening.

This would be the first time the United States has ever imposed sanctions on an Israeli army unit.

Axios reported that three American sources anticipate an announcement by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken within the next few days regarding sanctions against the IDF's ‘Netzah Yehuda’ battalion, primarily composed of ultra-Orthodox Jews.

The decision was based on several cases involving the unit’s conduct in Judea and Samaria, internationally known as the West Bank, before Oct. 7.

The Netzah Yehuda battalion was relocated to the Golan Heights after several years following multiple media reports alleging abuse of Palestinian civilians by soldiers within the unit.

The proposed American sanctions would forbid U.S. military aid to be used for the battalion, according to a law prohibiting foreign aid and training for security units “credibly alleged” to be guilty of human rights violations.

Blinken informed reporters on Friday that he would implement some of the recommendations put forth by a State Department panel assigned to investigate human rights violations. The panel advised sanctioning various IDF and Israeli police units.

Other IDF and police units would not be sanctioned after rectifying their conduct, a source told Axios.

One of the incidents involving the Netzah Yehuda battalion was the death of an elderly Palestinian American during a summary detention in January 2022.

Two officers were dismissed and a third, the battalion commander, was formally censured over the death, which the IDF said came as a result of “moral failure and poor decision-making.”

This latest round of sanctions follows a series of unprecedented sanctions by the U.S. against Israeli individuals.

Last Friday, the European Union and the U.S. sanctioned several Israeli settlement activists and connected entities, in addition to the well-known anti-Christian activist Benzi Gopstein and his organization Lehava.

Far-right activists Meir Ettinger, Elisha Yered, Neria Ben Pazi and Yinon Levy were also sanctioned.

Two organizations – Mount Hebron Fund and Shlom Asiraich – are accused of raising funds for Yinon Levy and David Chai Chasdai, who are both also sanctioned.

Those companies will be blocked from using U.S. financial networks and interacting financially with American citizens, according to the Associated Press.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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