Latest News 30-04-2024 00:01 10 Views

Biden admin accuses Israeli military of human rights violations in stunning condemnation

The U.S. found five units of the Israel Defense Forces responsible 'for individual incidents of gross violations of human rights,' the State Department announced on Monday – though whether funding to the American ally could be cut over such abuses under the so-called 'Leahy Laws' still hangs in the balance. 

At a press briefing, State Department principal deputy spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters that the human rights violations happened all before the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas militants on southern Israel and none happened in Gaza. Four of the units have 'effectively remediated,' he said, while the U.S. continues 'in consultations and engagements with the government of Israel' on the remaining unit.

'They have submitted additional information as it pertains to that unit. And we're continuing to have those conversations consistent with the memorandum of understanding that we have with the government of Israel that was entered into in 2021,' he said. 'When conclusions are made under actions that fall under the auspices of the Foreign Assistance Act, we are required to consult with officials from the government of Israel, and that is ongoing. We are engaging with them in a process, and we will make an ultimate decision when it comes to that unit when that process is complete.'

He also noted that 'the remediation standard is consistent and it is the same for all countries.' 

When pressed by a reporter, Patel admitted that the fifth unit is still eligible to receive U.S. arms at this stage. 

'When we're talking about the Leahy Law, what we are talking about our unit and component restrictions, when they are found in violation, it is not have bearing on the broader security relationship that we may have with a country, especially a country like Israel, in which we have a longstanding security relationship. The provision of bulk assistance that's gone back many, many years,' Patel added. 

A senior State Department official told Fox News that Secretary of State Antony Blinken has raised the matter with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. 

The State Department says on its website that 'the term ‘Leahy law’ refers to two statutory provisions prohibiting the U.S. Government from using funds for assistance to units of foreign security forces where there is credible information implicating that unit in the commission of gross violations of human rights.' 

Former Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy had championed legislation that became the Leahy law in the 1990s, saying the U.S. needed a tool to block American military aid and training to foreign security units guilty of extrajudicial killings, rapes, torture and other flagrant human rights abuses. 

The law requires an automatic cutoff of aid to a military unit if the State Department finds credible evidence that it has committed gross abuses. A second Leahy law says the same for Defense Department training of foreign militaries. 

Rights groups long have accused U.S. administrations, including Biden's, of shirking rigorous investigations of allegations of Israeli military killings and other abuses against Palestinians to avoid invoking such laws aimed at conditioning military aid to lawful behavior by foreign forces, according to The Associated Press.  

Israel, meanwhile, says its security forces investigate abuses and its courts hold offenders accountable. 

The development comes as Israeli officials are growing concerned that the International Criminal Court could soon issue arrest warrants against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other top officials over charges related to the war in Gaza, reports say.  

The court may accuse the senior government figures of pursuing an excessively harsh military response to Hamas’ Oct. 7 attacks on Israel and preventing the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, the New York Times is reporting, citing Israeli and foreign officials.   

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 


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