Israel’s Netzah Yehuda battalion infographic
Graphic shows events leading to U.S. State Department’s decision not to impose sanctions on the Netzah Yehuda battalion.


Israel’s Netzah Yehuda battalion escapes sanctions

By Duncan Mil

May 9, 2024 - Washington has concluded that Israel has adequately punished soldiers and officers in the IDF’s Netzah Yehuda Battalion -- accused of human rights abuses against Palestinians.

Last week, U.S. secretary of state Antony Blinken told Congress that Israel had adequately punished three members of the ultra-Orthodox Netzah Yehuda Battalion for the death in January 2022 of 78-year-old Omar As’ad -- a Palestinian with American citizenship who had lived in the U.S. for decades.

As’ad died after being detained, handcuffed, blindfolded and later abandoned in near-freezing conditions by Netzah Yehuda troops during a search of the West Bank village of Jiljilya.

At the time, the Department of State called for a “thorough criminal investigation and full accountability;” however, Israel failed to prosecute the soldiers -- only reprimanding a Netzah Yehuda commander and barring two soldiers from senior positions for two years.

Tim Rieser, a longtime aide to former Sen. Patrick Leahy, the chief author of the 1997 Leahy law, said Blinken’s justification was “not consistent with how the law was written and how it was intended to be applied.”

A former State Department official said it was a “mockery” inconsistent with the law.

“That’s an outrage and another example of special treatment for Israel,” said Charles Blaha, the former director of the State Department’s Office of Security and Human Rights.

PUBLISHED: 09/05/2024; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: Getty Images