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WorldIsraeli officials condemn anticipated US penalties against military unit

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Israeli officials condemn anticipated US penalties against military unit

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Israeli leaders strongly criticized the US for planning to impose sanctions on a group of very religious soldiers in the Israeli military.

The US is thinking about putting sanctions on a part of the Israeli military. This would be the first time this has happened. It could make relations between the US and Israel even worse, which have already been getting tense because of Israel’s war in Gaza.

US officials did not say which group was punished, but Israeli leaders and local media said it was Netzah Yehuda, an infantry group that was started about 25 years ago to include ultra-religious men in the military. Many religious men do not have to do compulsory service because they have special permission.

Israeli leaders said the decision was not fair, especially because Israel is at war. They promised to fight against it.

“I will strongly oppose anyone who tries to place sanctions on a part of the IDF,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Netzah Yehuda, also known as Judea Forever, has its roots in the West Bank, which is under Israeli control. Some of its members have been tied to mistreatment of Palestinians. It is only a small part of Israel’s military in the area.

The group was heavily criticized by Americans in 2022 after an old Palestinian-American man was found dead soon after he was stopped at a checkpoint in the West Bank.

A Palestinian medical exam found that 78-year-old Omar Assad had existing health problems, but also had a heart attack due to some kind of violent incident.

The doctors found marks on his head, redness on his wrists from being tied up, and bleeding in his eyelids from being blindfolded very tightly. An inquiry by the military found that Israeli soldiers thought Assad was sleeping when they removed the cables from his hands. They didn’t give him any medical aid when they saw that he wasn’t responding and they left without making sure he was alive.

Assad had been in the US for 40 years. After the US government complained, the Israeli military admitted that the incident was very serious and unfortunate. They said it happened because the soldiers made bad decisions and behaved badly. They punished one officer and moved two others to different jobs because of what happened.

However, the army chose not to press charges because they couldn’t prove that their actions directly caused the death of the US citizen.

Human rights groups say that Israel doesn’t often punish soldiers for killing Palestinians.

Investigations found that soldiers had to hold Assad down because he was very resistant. Assad’s family doesn’t believe that a 78-year-old who is sick should be treated so harshly.

During all the noise with the US, Israel moved Netzah Yehuda from the West Bank to northern Israel in late 2022. The group of soldiers was sent to the southern border near Hamas’ war after Oct 7 attacks.

On Sunday, the army said that its soldiers from Netzah Yehuda are helping in the fighting in Gaza.

“The battalion is doing their job well and bravely following the rules and laws,” they said. It was said that if the unit is punished, its effects will be looked at again.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Friday that he has decided to release the results of reviews on allegations that some Israeli military units broke the rules for getting aid from the US.

Two people who work for the US government said that the US announcement may happen on Monday.

The officials checked five Israeli groups and all of them except one were found to have fixed the problems. The Leahy Law is a rule made by a former Senator. Patrick Leahy is stopping the United States from giving money to armies in other countries if they have done bad things to people’s rights.

Sergeant Major Nadav Nissim Miranda, a reservist in the Netzah Yehuda unit, said that Assad’s death was a sad event, but it was also something unusual. He told Channel 12 TV that attacking the battalion would make it harder to convince religious men to join the military.

However, Yesh Din, an organization that helps with legal issues in Israel, said that this is not the only case like this. It said that the unit called Netzah Yehuda has the highest number of soldiers convicted for hurting Palestinians or damaging their property since 2010. About one out of every five soldiers comes from this unit.

The US review started before the Hamas war and is not related to recent Israeli actions in Gaza or the West Bank. There has been a lot of deadly violence in the area since the Gaza war began. The US has recently made a rule that punishes aggressive settlers.

Gadi Shamni, a former general who used to lead the military in the West Bank, said the main issue with the unit is that it was always only sent to the West Bank. Fighting between soldiers and Palestinians and settlers and Palestinians has increased there in recent years. On the other hand, he said that different groups often take turns going in and out of the dangerous area.

He said that the constant fighting and violence had made the soldiers very tired. However, he said that punishing the whole group is unfair and it would be better to focus on certain people or leaders.

Ori Givati, the director of advocacy at Breaking the Silence, a group of former Israeli soldiers who criticize Israel’s occupation, said the problems are more serious than just one unit.

He said soldiers often use their power to hurt Palestinians and get away with it, which is causing more incidents like Assad’s death.

Israeli extremists strongly criticized the anticipated decision of the US. Israel’s national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, who strongly supports his country, said the US did something very wrong. Tally Gotliv, a member of Netanyahu’s political party, also accused the US of hating Jewish people.

Even the leader of the other political party, ex-Prime Minister Yair Lapid, said no to the idea.

He said it was a mistake to have sanctions and we need to get rid of them. He also said the problem is more about politics than the military.

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