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US Accuses 5 Israeli Army Units of "Gross Rights Violations" Pre-Gaza War

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The U.S. State Department revealed that it found five units within the Israeli military responsible for severe human rights violations that occurred outside the Gaza Strip before the conflict with Hamas in October. These violations were reported to have occurred before October 7th and did not take place in Gaza. Four of the units have taken steps to address and rectify the violations, which is considered standard protocol for partners. However, Israel provided additional information regarding the fifth unit, prompting ongoing discussions between the U.S. government and Israeli authorities.

Despite these findings, the State Department clarified that U.S. weapons sales to these units would not be affected. However, they refrained from disclosing the specific nature of the violations, the units involved, or the steps taken for remediation.

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The scrutiny of Israel's military conduct has intensified, particularly in light of the significant number of Palestinian casualties in Gaza, with reports indicating over 34,500 deaths, including many women and children. The relentless assault on Gaza has led to widespread devastation, with severe food shortages raising concerns about famine.

The conflict between Israel and Hamas erupted following an attack by Hamas on October 7th, resulting in the deaths of approximately 1,200 individuals, along with numerous hostages taken.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged earlier in the month that determinations had been made regarding allegations of Israeli violations of U.S. laws prohibiting military assistance to units committing gross human rights violations. These laws, known as the Leahy Laws, authored by U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy in the late 1990s, prohibit such assistance to units that have not faced accountability for such violations.

Recent reports suggest that the U.S. has received new information from Israeli authorities regarding a specific unit, reportedly the Netzah Yehuda battalion, concerning human rights allegations in the West Bank. The U.S. is currently assessing whether this unit is taking steps toward remediation.

The Netzah Yehuda battalion, established in 1999, caters to the religious beliefs of ultra-Orthodox Jews and other religious nationalist recruits within the Israeli army.

April 30, 2024 12:35 p.m. 8644

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