Israeli politicians unite in condemning proposed US sanctions against IDF unit

Opposition leader Yair Lapid called the proposed sanctions a ‘mistake’ that would cause a ‘serious erosion of our international status.’

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

Opposition and centrist Israeli ministers joined Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in criticizing the announcement by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that the Biden Administration was considering imposing sanctions on a religious IDF unit for alleged human rights violations.

On Friday, Blinken indicated that a decision on whether to sanction the Netzah Yehudah ultra-orthodox battalion was imminent.

Blinken said, “I’ve made determinations; you can expect to see them in the days ahead.”

Netzah Yehudah, a unit of ultra-orthodox soldiers who operate in Judea and Samaria, came under scrutiny after an 80-year-old Palestinian American man died of a heart attack while handcuffed.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted on Saturday night after hearing the news of the proposed sanctions and posted, “At a time when our soldiers are fighting terrorist monsters, the intention to sanction a unit in the IDF is the height of absurdity and a moral low.”

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

“The government I head will act by all means against these moves. Sanctions must not be imposed on the Israel Defense Forces!” Netanyahu concluded.

The IDF in a statement declared it does “not recognize” the matter of this sanction and will continue to internally investigate any “unusual event in a matter-of-fact manner and in accordance with the law.”

Former Defense Minister and IDF Chief-of-Staff Benny Gantz, who now serves as Minister Without Portfolio, posted on X, “The ‘Netzah Yehuda’ battalion is an inseparable part of the Israel Defense Forces. 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 conveys the wrong message to our shared enemies during wartime,” he said.

“I intend on acting to have this decision changed,” Gantz added.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid also denounced the proposed sanctions, calling them a “mistake,” saying they would cause “serious injury to Israel’s status as a state of law and another serious erosion of our international status.”

However, Lapid laid the blame at the feet of National Security Minister Ben Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich for allegedly encouraging extremism and not insisting on more oversight of security forces in Judea and Samaria.

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Ironically, individuals were targeted in the newest round of US ‘anti-settler’ sanctions for incidents occurring while Lapid served briefly as interim Prime Minister.

Ben Gvir called the sanctions a “red line” and declared that he would absorb Netzah Yehudah into the police force in his ministry if the sanctions were imposed.