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Netzah Yehuda Battalion and Sham US Sanctions

Tuesday 23 April 2024
Netzah Yehuda Battalion and Sham US Sanctions

Alwaght- Over the past 200 days of Gaza war, while the world attention has been mainly focused on the Israeli crimes in the coastal enclave, the situation in the West Bank is not better and the Israeli forces along with armed settlers are overtly and covertly suppressing and killing the Palestinians of this region.

The security conditions in the West Bank are so strained that even the Western backers of the Israeli regime have begun to raise their voices in protest to the performance of the Israeli military. In the latest reaction, the US administration threatened to sanction a unit of the Israeli army, a move having drawn strong reaction from Netanyahu’s cabinet.

The US-based Axios news site on Saturday reported that Washington was planning to impose sanctions on Israel’s Netzah Yehuda battalion for abuses to the human rights in the West Bank.

According to to Axis report that was largely reflected by the Israeli media, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is slated to officially announce ban on the battalion in the coming days. 

This is the first time that the US administration includes an Israeli military unit in its sanctions list. According to information disclosed by American sources, these sanctions include a ban on the transfer of US military aid to this battalion, as well as a ban on the participation of members of the mentioned battalion in military training courses by the US Army or any other activity that requires US funding. 

According to a senior Washington official, Blinken's decision to announce these sanctions is related to events that took place in the West Bank before October 7. He clarified that other units of the Israeli army and police, which were under similar investigation, will eventually be exempted from these sanctions, because they have corrected their behavior.

This ban is to be announced within the framework of the US Leahy Law, which prohibits the provision of weapons, training and military support to foreign security forces suspected of human rights violations. 

Netanyahu enraged 

The US decision has drawn strong reactions from the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu lashed out at Washington, saying : “Sanctions must not be imposed on the Israel Defense Forces...In recent weeks, I have been working against the imposition of sanctions on Israeli citizens, including in my conversations with senior American government officials. At a time when our soldiers are fighting the monsters of terror, the intention to impose a sanction on a unit in the IDF is the height of absurdity and a moral low...The government headed by me will act by all means against these moves." 

The Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir who is himself under charges for abuses and mainly encouraging the settlers to take terror actions against the Palestinians called for full support to the battalion and said that the information about the US intention to sanction this unit are serious. "This is an obvious red line that should not be crossed."

Netzah Yehuda battalion: features and history

An all-male unit, Netzah Yehuda was formed in 1999 as a special unit for ultra-Orthodox Jewish soldiers, and about 1,000 soldiers serve in the unit each term. The battalion, based in the West Bank, has become a recruitment center for many young far-right settlers who have not been accepted into any other battalion of the Israeli army.

The battalion has been associated with far-right extremism and violence against Palestinians. In the past years, many images of Netzah Yehuda's crimes against Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank have been published. Last year, during a raid by its 97th unit on the Talunim area, west of Ramallah, soldiers belonging to this battalion, who thought that no one saw them, severely injured several Palestinian civilians, unaware that a number of other Palestinians are observing and recording their brutality.

The US Department of state, according to Haaretz, launched a probe into the Netzah Yehuda actions later in 2022 after its soldiers were reported involved in violent actions against Palestinian civilians. One of the crimes of this battalion was killing of Omar Assad, a 80-year-old Palestinian-American man, in January.

The brutal performance of the Israeli army in the West Bank has even been acknowledged by regime officials, as Merav Michaeli, head of the Labor Party of the Israeli regime, said: "Netzah Yehuda should have been disbanded years ago. This battalion teaches settlers violence, kills Palestinians without reason, and abuses and hits Palestinian detainees."

In recent months, extremist militants, along with hardline settlers, have been targeting Palestinians everywhere in the West Bank, and dozens Palestinians have been killed, injured and arrested by this battalion.

White House double-dealing

The White House announces sanctions on an Israeli military unit while over the past months it has totally backed the genocidal Israeli war on Gaza and has given the Israeli regime a leeway to massacre the Palestinians in this besieged part of Palestine, where 34,000 Palestinians, mainly children and women, have been slaughtered. 

The possible sanctioning of the Israeli army battalion and the sanctioning of several extremist settlers in the past months for rights abuses in the West Bank, apparently shows that the administration of US President Joe Biden disagrees with the hard-line cabinet of Netanyahu in some cases, but it seems that these measures is nothing but deception of public opinion. 

Washington has chosen only one army unit from thousands of Zionist extremists who openly commit crimes everyday, but there are thousands of far-right extremists who have been involved in killing Palestinians, destroying homes and burning Palestinian farms in the West Bank in recent decades, while their crimes have been overlooked by the leaders of the White House. The symbolic sanctions on a battalion of the Israeli army are nothing but a sham move in order to whitewash their US hands at a time the global public opinion see the unwavering American supports as the main driver of genocide in Gaza.

Under the pretext of violating the human rights of the Palestinians in the West Bank, the White House officials sanction the Netzah Yehuda, but how can the decisions of the Biden administration be taken seriously while Washington has vetoed all UN Security resolutions calling for ceasefire with its veto. 

If the American administration is seriously concerned about the violation of human rights in the occupied territories and opposes the Israeli invasion of Rafah, it should stop sending weapons to Israel. But in a completely contradictory move, the US House of Representatives, at the request of the White House, on Saturday night, approved a bill to send $17 billion in funding to the Israeli regime. If the Senate gives the go-ahead, which is certain, more weapons will be shipped for the Israeli regime to shed more Palestinian blood.

In the past seven months, the Israeli occupation army has killed tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza using American weapons, and by sending new weapons, the hands of the Israelis will be opened for more killings. Sanctioning the Netzah Yehuda, at the same time as sending thousands of tons of new weapons to kill Palestinians in Gaza, reveals the contradiction of Washington's policies towards the Palestinian cause.

On the one hand, the White House claims that it is sanctioning the settlers and the Israeli army battalion in defense of the Palestinians, but at the same time it openly states that it is against a long-term Gaza ceasefire.

With this open contradiction nobody believes the US stance against the Israeli army unit, since as long as the Israeli war machine is active on Gaza, sanctioning the settlers and a small number of soldiers makes no difference.

Wining trust of Palestinian Authority

In addition to fooling the public opinion, the new US measures seek political agenda. Having in mind that the US over the weekend vetoed the UN Security Council resolution to grant Palestinians a permanent membership at the UN, the Palestinian Authority (PA) members went enraged. To rebuild PA's trust, Biden seeks to sanction Israeli violators of human rights so that the White House can have them at the service of advancing the Israeli plans in the West Bank.

From another aspect, the US needs the PA for the political administration of Gaza in the future and in recent months it has announced it green light for tasking the PA with administration of the enclave. Give the valuable services that Mahmoud Abbas has provided to the US and Israel in the last two decades, the leaders of the White House know very well that no one can protect the interests of the Israelis in the West Bank as much as Abbas and the PA do. Therefore, in order to appease the leaders of the PA, they have put sanctions on a number of Israeli troops to show that the West Bank and Gaza are different for West and unlike Hamas, which they consider a terrorist group, they consider the PA a reliable partner.

Through possible sanctions on the Netzah Yehuda battalion, the US seeks to clear itself from complicity in Gaza genocide, but with passing of the new aid bill to the Israeli regime by the Congress that allows further massacring of the Palestinians, the public opinion will not believe these American contradictions. 

Tags :

US Netzah Yehuda Israel Netanyahu Sanctions Crimes West Bank Gaza

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