Netanyahu Rejects All US Sanctions On Army Count

( – In a significant turn of events, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has firmly opposed any potential sanctions on the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), following reports that the United States might reduce aid to a specific IDF battalion. Netanyahu, expressing his resolve, stated, “I will fight it with all my strength,” highlighting his staunch refusal to accept what he views as unjust measures against his country’s military.

The controversy centers on the Netzah Yehuda battalion, an IDF unit which has come under scrutiny for alleged human rights violations in the occupied West Bank. According to Axios, the U.S. is considering targeting this battalion for actions deemed inconsistent with human rights standards. Such a move by the U.S. would mark an unprecedented step in its relationship with Israel, as Washington has never before suspended aid to an IDF unit.

The potential sanctions would be enacted under a U.S. law known as the Leahy Law, which prohibits U.S. military aid to foreign military units that are credibly implicated in severe human rights violations. The U.S. State Department, under the guidance of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, is reportedly poised to make a decision soon. In a recent statement, Blinken hinted, “I’ve made determinations; you can expect to see them in the days ahead.”

This development follows an incident involving the death of an 80-year-old Palestinian-American, Omar Assad, which occurred in January 2022. Assad died after being bound and gagged by Israeli soldiers during an operation in the West Bank—a case that prompted calls from the U.S. for a “thorough criminal investigation and full accountability.” Although the IDF expressed regret over Assad’s death, attributing it to a pre-existing medical condition, the response has been viewed by some as insufficient. The commanding officer of Netzah Yehuda was reprimanded, and two soldiers were barred from serving in senior positions for two years, yet no criminal prosecutions ensued.

The IDF maintains that its actions and operations, including those of Netzah Yehuda, comply with international law. In response to the reports of impending sanctions, an IDF spokesperson said, “Following publications about sanctions against the battalion, the IDF is not aware of the issue,” asserting that the IDF continues to investigate any significant incidents “in a practical manner and according to law.”

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has also voiced strong opposition to the proposed sanctions, urging the U.S. to reconsider its position. “Any attempt to criticize an entire unit casts a heavy shadow on the actions of the IDF,” Gallant stated, emphasizing the critical nature of U.S.-Israel relations and the broader implications of such measures.

These developments occur amidst a backdrop of increased scrutiny over Israel’s military practices in the West Bank, particularly following the 7 October Hamas attack on Israel from the Gaza Strip. Moreover, the tensions are accentuated by the recent U.S. sanctions against Israeli far-right activist Ben Zion Gopstein, whose organization, Lehava, has been accused of engaging in destabilizing violence in the region.

The situation remains fluid, with significant implications for the diplomatic and military relations between the U.S. and Israel. As both nations navigate this complex issue, the international community watches closely, anticipating the potential ramifications of any shifts in policy or practice that might emerge from this confrontation.