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Netanyahu vows to fight US’ proposed sanctions on Israeli military

Netanyahu vows to fight US’ proposed sanctions on Israeli military

The reported consideration by the US of imposing sanctions against an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) battalion over its alleged human rights violations in the occupied West Bank prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to announce his pledge to fight them with all available means.

According to sources, the US State Department is contemplating imposing sanctions on the Netzah Yehuda battalion under the 1997 Leahy law, marking the first time such measures would target an IDF unit.

Netanyahu called the move as absurd and morally unjust, particularly amid ongoing security operations against what he termed "terrorist monsters."

The IDF responded to the reports, stating it was unaware of any sanctions in force against its units and emphasizing that any decision would undergo review. The potential sanctions, if implemented, would prohibit the transfer of US military aid to the battalion and restrict participation in joint training programs funded by the US.

The backdrop of these developments includes recent deadly airstrikes on the southern Gaza city of Rafah, which claimed the lives of 22 individuals, including 18 children. The tragic incident underscored the escalating violence in the region, drawing international condemnation and scrutiny.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's acknowledgement of possible violations of the Leahy law added fuel to the debate, signalling a heightened focus on human rights considerations in US-Israeli relations. The law prohibits military assistance to units implicated in gross violations of human rights, with past enforcement leading to aid blockages for hundreds of units worldwide.

The Netzah Yehuda battalion initially formed to accommodate recruits from ultra-Orthodox and national religious communities, has faced allegations of misconduct, including the death of a 78-year-old US citizen in 2022. Such incidents have raised concerns about the IDF's adherence to international law and human rights standards, prompting calls for accountability.

While Israeli officials have defended the battalion's actions, citing adherence to military law and judicial oversight, human rights organizations argue that the IDF's investigative mechanisms fall short in addressing abuses effectively.

The potential sanctions against the battalion coincide with broader international efforts to address violence and human rights violations in the West Bank. Both the US and the EU have recently announced sanctions targeting far-right Israeli groups and individuals involved in settler violence, signalling a coordinated response to extremist activities in the region.

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