Israel urges US to reconsider sanctions on Israeli military unit

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Israeli war Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz urged US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a phone call to reconsider potential sanctions against an Israeli military unit, his office said. The call with Blinken came after Israeli media reported on Sunday that the US State Department might sanction the Israel Defense Forces (IDF)’s Netzah Yehuda battalion, accused of human rights violations in the West Bank, Xinhua news agency reported.

Gantz told Blinken that the move would “harm Israel’s legitimacy in time of war,” asserting that “it has no justification because Israel has a strong and independent judicial system.” Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to fight any sanctions imposed on parts of the IDF with “all strength,” according to his statement on Saturday. The IDF said on Sunday that the Netzah Yehuda battalion is currently engaged in combat in the Gaza Strip.

“The battalion is professionally and bravely conducting operations in accordance to the IDF Code of Ethics and with full commitment to international law,” the military said in a statement. “The reports regarding sanctions against the Netzah Yehuda Battalion are not currently known to the IDF,” the military added. Netzah Yehuda, reportedly consisting of ultra-Orthodox Jewish soldiers, have been accused of abusing Palestinians in the West Bank in several cases, some of them captured on video.

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In 2022, Netzah Yehuda soldiers tied, gagged, and blindfolded an 80-year-old Palestinian-American man during an arrest, who subsequently died of a heart attack. The battalion commander was reprimanded and two officers were dismissed, however, no criminal charges were filed.