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Israeli military decries expected US sanctions

April 22, 2024 09:30 IST

The United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected to impose sanctions on the 'Netzah Yehudah' (Judah Forever) Battalion of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) over allegations that its members committed human rights violations.

IMAGE: Israeli soldiers operate next to the UNRWA headquarters in the Gaza Strip. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

If such sanctions are imposed, the Battalion itself and its members would be barred from receiving any military aid from the US, in accordance with a 1997 American law.

The allegations against the unit revolve around how certain Palestinians were said to have been treated by its soldiers. However, the IDF already investigated these matters and said that it disciplined any soldier found to have committed an infraction.


The 'Netzah Yehudah' unit was established to allow more of Israel's Ultra-Orthodox youth to serve in the military.

As such, it has now women in it and sets aside time each day for unit members to study Torah and engage in other religious activities.

Because of this, the unit is popular with religious 'lone soldiers', young people who moved to Israel on their own and serve in the IDF.

Many of these lone soldiers are English speakers from the US, Canada and the United Kingdom.

In response to the reports of imminent sanctions, the IDF said, 'The fighters of the Netzah Yehuda Battalion are now participating in the war in the Gaza Strip, with courage and professionalism, while maintaining the values and spirit of the IDF and the principles of international law.'

'Over the past few years,' it added, 'the battalion's fighters have been at the core of operational activities around the clock, to maintain the security of the citizens of the State of Israel, alongside being a leading battalion in the combination of ultra-Orthodox fighters in the IDF.'

The IDF added that it does not recognize the claims made against the battalion as valid. However, it said that it would review the matter again should sanctions be imposed.

'The IDF is working and will continue to work to investigate every unusual event in a matter-of-fact manner and in accordance with the law,' it said.

Benny Gantz, a member of the special War Cabinet, a former Minister of Defence, and a former IDF Chief of Staff, commented, "The Netzah Yehuda battalion is an inseparable part of the Israel Defence Forces. It is subject to military law and is responsible for operating in full compliance with international law."

Gantz went on to say that the State of Israel has a 'strong, independent judicial system that meticulously evaluates any claim of a violation or deviation from IDF orders and code of conduct, and will continue to do so'.

Minister Gantz added that while he has 'great appreciation for our American friends', the decision to impose sanctions on an IDF unit6 and its soldiers 'sets a dangerous precedent and conveys the wrong message to our shared enemies during war time'.

"I intend on acting to have this decision changed," he pledged.

Source: ANI