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Netanyahu calls ‘absurd’ proposed US sanctions against IDF unit ‘a moral low point’

The US proposal would deny military aid to the ultra-Orthodox IDF unit Netzah Yehudah due to alleged human rights abuses.

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called proposed sanctions against an ultra-Orthodox unit for alleged violations “the height of absurdity” and a “moral low point.”

On Friday, Axios reported that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has announced that he is considering implementing the Leahy Act, which bans the US from funding foreign police and military units suspected of human rights abuses.

He said, “I have made decisions; you can expect them in the coming days,” Blinken said.

It was also reported that the ultra-Orthodox IDF unit Netzah Yehudah would face US sanctions over the death of an 80-year-old Palestinian-American suspect Omar As’ad, who died while handcuffed.

Other units operating in Judea and Samaria were investigated by the US for alleged violations but were not sanctioned when they agreed to reform their policies.

Nahal Yehudah, which recruits religiously observant soldiers, operates mainly in Judea and Samaria, although some soldiers have also been deployed in Gaza.

Netanyahu and Israeli ministers have rejected the Biden administration’s proposal.

Netanyahu wrote on X on Saturday evening: “At a time when our soldiers are fighting terrorist monsters, the intention to punish a unit in the IDF is the height of absurdity and a moral low point.”

He added: “In recent weeks, I have been working against the leveling of sanctions against Israeli citizens, including in my conversations with senior US government officials.”

“The government I lead will oppose these steps by all means necessary. No sanctions should be imposed on the Israeli army!” Netanyahu concluded.

Former Defense Minister and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz wrote on X: “The ‘Netzah Yehuda’ battalion is an inseparable part of the Israeli army. It is subject to military law and is responsible for operating in full compliance with international law.”

“I have great appreciation for our American friends, but the decision to impose sanctions on an IDF unit and its soldiers sets a dangerous precedent and sends the wrong message to our shared wartime enemies,” he said.

“I intend to take action to have this decision changed,” Gantz added.