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Israel DM reiterates supports for army unit accused of abuses against Palestinians

April 23, 2024 at 11:25 am

Israeli Minister of Defence Yoav Gallant speaks during a meeting at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia on March 26, 2024 [Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images]

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant yesterday reiterated his support for an army battalion accused of abuses and human rights violations against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, Anadolu agency reported. Gallant toured army outposts around the Gaza Strip and spoke to soldiers of the Netzah Yehuda battalion, his office said in a statement.“The defence establishment is behind you, no one will teach us about values and morals,” Gallant told the soldiers.

The visit came amid reports that the US is preparing to impose sanctions on the battalion over its rights violations against Palestinians.

Gallant argued that the fact that some of the soldiers did something wrong does not allow the US “to vilify” the entire battalion.

BLOG: Why is the US looking to sanction Israel’s Netzah Yehuda battalion?

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier that “sanctions must not be imposed on the IDF [army]!”If America goes ahead with the sanctions, it will be the first time the US administration imposes sanctions on an Israeli military unit due to its activities in the occupied West Bank.

Sanctions will prevent the transfer of American military aid to the battalion, and will prevent its soldiers and officers from participating in training with the American army, or participating in activities that receive American funding.

The battalion was established in 1999 as a special military unit for ultra-Orthodox Jews, and all soldiers and officers in it – mostly illegal settlers – are men.

In September 2022, Amos Harel, a military analyst for Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, reported that the State Department had started looking into the battalion following several incidents involving its soldiers committing acts of violence against Palestinian civilians.