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Blinken will not sanctions Israeli battalions that committed human rights violations in West Bank (Design: Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

The decision comes after a report published by the American news website Axios indicated that Blinken had decided to punish Israel’s Netzah Yehuda Battalion.

After determining that three military battalions with the Israeli army committed “gross human rights violations” against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, the United States decided that they will not be sanctioned, American Broadcasting Company (ABC) reported on Friday.

According to ABC, the battalions will remain eligible for US military aid “because of steps Israel says it’s taking to address the problem.”

ABC further reported that “the administration assessment, which has not yet been made public, was outlined in an undated letter by Secretary of State Antony Blinken to House Speaker Mike Johnson”.

The human rights violations occurred prior to the military operation carried out by the Palestinian Resistance on October 7.

The decision comes after a report published by the American news website Axios indicated that Blinken had decided to punish Israel’s Netzah Yehuda Battalion, known for its human rights abuses against Palestinian civilians. 

According to Axios, the  sanctions were expected to prohibit the battalion and its members from receiving any form of US military assistance or training, as outlined by a 1997 law authored by then-Senator Patrick Leahy.

Named after former Senator Patrick Leahy, a Democrat from Virginia, this committee was established in accordance with the 1997 laws that mandate the US to suspend aid to any military, foreign, or law enforcement units credibly accused of gross human rights violations.

Blinken’s Inaction

A report, published by the investigative website ProPublica on April 17, disclosed that a special committee under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had advised the minister that the United States should limit arms sales to Israeli military units accused of human rights violations.

“But Blinken has failed to act on the proposal in the face of growing international criticism of the Israeli military’s conduct in Gaza, according to current and former State Department officials,” ProPublica reported. 

The report highlighted that most of the documented incidents occurred in the West Bank prior to the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7.

These incidents include extrajudicial killings by Israeli border police, including an incident where a battalion’s actions led to the death of an elderly Palestinian-American man, as well as “an allegation that interrogators tortured and raped a teenager who had been accused of throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails.”

According to an informed source cited by the investigative website, recommendations for action against Israeli units were forwarded to Blinken in December. The website quoted a source stating that “these reports have been in his possession ever since.”

No Double Standards?

Two days after the publication of the report, Blinken said that he had “made ‘determinations’ regarding accusations that Israel violated a set of US laws that prohibit providing military assistance to individuals or security force units that commit gross violations of human rights,” Reuters news agency reported.

Asked at a press conference in Italy about the reports, Blinken said: “I think you’re referring to the so-called Leahy Law and our work under that”.

“So this is a very important law. And it’s one that we apply across the board. And when we’re doing these investigations, these inquiries, it’s something that takes time. That has to be done very carefully, both in collecting the facts and analyzing them,” the US secretary of state added.

Additionally, on April 22, Blinken rejected accusations of “double standards” when applying US law to reported abuses by the Israeli army. 

“Do we have a double standard? The answer is no,” Blinken stated during a press conference announcing the Department’s annual human rights country reports.

“In general, as we’re looking at human rights and the condition of human rights around the world, we apply the same standard to everyone. That doesn’t change whether the country is an adversary, a competitor, a friend or an ally,” he said.


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