Israeli Minister Opposes U.S. Sanctions on IDF Unit, Calls It a 'Red Line'

U.S. poised to sanction Israeli military unit over alleged human rights abuses, sparking backlash from Israeli officials and highlighting tensions in the U.S.-Israel relationship.

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Muthana Al-Najjar
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Israeli Minister Opposes U.S. Sanctions on IDF Unit, Calls It a 'Red Line'

Israeli Minister Opposes U.S. Sanctions on IDF Unit, Calls It a 'Red Line'

In a strong rebuke to potential U.S. sanctions against an Israeli military unit, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has called the move a "red line" and urged Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to immediately support the Netzah Yehuda battalion. The opposition comes amid reports that the Biden administration is planning to announce sanctions against the largely ultra-Orthodox infantry unit over allegations of human rights violations against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank.

The Netzah Yehuda battalion has been involved in past controversies, including the death of a Palestinian-American man while in their custody. If imposed, the U.S. sanctions would bar the unit from training with American troops or receiving U.S. funding and weapons under the Leahy Laws, which prohibit assistance to units accused of human rights abuses.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top officials have condemned the potential sanctions, with Netanyahu calling it "the height of absurdity" and stating that Israel has strong and independent courts to deal with any violations. Ben-Gvir described the reports as "extremely grave" and said he expects Gallant not to submit to American dictates.

The IDF has defended the unit's achievements in protecting Israel's security, but U.S. officials have expressed dissatisfaction with the results of investigations into attacks on Palestinians involving Netzah Yehuda soldiers. The sanctions would mark the first time the Biden administration has taken action against an Israeli military unit.

Why this matters: The potential U.S. sanctions on an Israeli military unit emphasize the delicate balance in the long-standing alliance between the two countries. The move also underscores the increasing international scrutiny on Israel's actions in the occupied Palestinian territories and the challenges it poses for the U.S.-Israel relationship.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken had earlier said that he made "determinations" about how to deal with allegations that Israel violated U.S. laws surrounding its military assistance, and that the results would be made public soon. The reported plan to impose sanctions comes amid a broader international campaign to hold Israelis accountable for violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.

Key Takeaways

  • U.S. plans to sanction Israeli military unit Netzah Yehuda over human rights abuses
  • Israeli officials, including PM Netanyahu, condemn the potential sanctions as "absurd"
  • Sanctions would bar the unit from training with U.S. troops and receiving U.S. funding
  • First time Biden admin takes action against an Israeli military unit over rights abuses
  • Sanctions highlight tensions in U.S.-Israel alliance over Israel's actions in West Bank