US State Dept Claims That Five IDF Units Violated Human Rights Prior To The War

( — During a press conference on Monday, April 29, State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said that five Israeli military units have been found to have committed gross violations of human rights. He added that four of the five have “effectively remediated” the violations. He did not explain what the violations were or what the remediation consisted of. Patel went on to say that the U.S. is consulting with the government of Israel regarding the fifth unit.

While not formally named anywhere, the final unit is believed to be the Netzah Yehuda battalion. This unit was founded in 1999 to accommodate more strictly orthodox soldiers. It began with only 30 members but has grown since then to over 1000. The unit was implicated in the death of Omar Assad, a 78-year-old Palestinian-American man, in 2022. Assad died of an apparent heart attack while being detained by the Netzah Yehuda, who had kept him bound and gagged. The commander of the unit and two others were reprimanded over the incident, but authorities were unable to prove his death was directly linked to his treatment.

Monday’s statements by Patel come on the heels of Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s letter to House Speaker Mike Johnson on the matter last week. The undated letter expressed his intention to postpone decisions to block aid to Israeli army battalions over human rights abuses. This would give Israel time to determine any wrongdoing and what remediation should consist of. However, Israeli leaders have reacted angrily to the suggestion that aid to any of their military units would be curtailed.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took to the social media platform X to express his outrage. In his post, he promised to act as necessary to oppose any sanctions and referred to the idea of imposing them as absurd and a “moral low.” Some have criticized the U.S. for delaying the sanctions as special treatment for Israel. In the Monday press conference, Patel flatly rejected that framing of the issue, saying that it is consistent with the Leahy process. The Leahy Law prohibits assistance to foreign security units implicated in human rights abuses, although it requires proof and includes exceptions.

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