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US reverses course – No sanctions expected against IDF Netzah Yehuda battalion

US alleged gross human rights violations by battalion's soldiers

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

The U.S. State Department has decided against imposing sanctions on the Israeli army and police for alleged human rights violations, despite earlier considerations to bar several units, including the IDF’s Netzah Yehuda battalion, from receiving U.S. military aid.

According to reports by the Axios news outlet and ABC News, the Biden administration decided against the move after receiving additional information from Israeli authorities in recent days.

After the first reports that sanctions were being considered, Israeli politicians across the political map angrily protested against the move, and several Israeli officials, including Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz, spoke directly with U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken to avert the sanctions.

Axios also reported that Israeli President Issac Herzog discussed the issue in a phone call with U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris.

The new information presented to U.S. officials included the results of an investigation and disciplinary steps that were taken against Netzah Yehudah troops who had filmed themselves abusing Palestinians in 2022, according to Axios.

Israel feared several negative consequences from the first-ever U.S. sanctions against an IDF unit, including the increased likelihood that the International Criminal Court (ICC) would issue arrest warrants against the soldiers, an Israeli official said.

A U.S. official cautioned that while there was now a process of consultation with Israel to determine which steps were taken against the offending soldiers in the battalion, the U.S. withheld the right to sanction the unit in the future if it concluded that those measures were not satisfactory.

“The United States plays with fire when it sanctions our allies’ military units,” said Mark Dubowitz, CEO of The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).

“It opens the door for other countries to sanction U.S. military units, and it is a finger in the eye of those allies, like Israel, that have their own independent judiciaries and systems of military justice,” Dubowitz added.

“Is the Biden administration now claiming that Israel’s judiciary is pro-Netanyahu, after spending months in 2023 making the case that the independence of Israel’s judiciary and the hundreds of thousands of Israelis then on streets are to be defended against government interference?”

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

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