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Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

Will the U.S. State Department Impose Sanctions on an IDF Battalion?

Filed under: Israel Defense Forces (IDF), Operation Swords of Iron, U.S. Policy

Will the U.S. State Department Impose Sanctions on an IDF Battalion?
Prime Minister Netanyahu meeting with soldiers of the Netzah Yehuda battalion in 2018. (GPO/Amos Ben Gershom)

The declared intention of the U.S. State Department to impose sanctions on the IDF’s Netzah Yehuda battalion based on allegations of human rights breaches is not merely surprising but is also a very rash and dangerous move against the military forces of a friendly state.

Since the Netzah Yehuda battalion is an integral component of the Israel Defense Forces, it is under the full authority and jurisdiction of Israel’s military justice system. As such, the battalion is subject to military law and is responsible for fully complying with the norms and principles of international law that apply to Israel.

Israel Has an Independent and Competent Legal System

Israel’s independent judicial system, including its military justice system, thoroughly investigates and institutes prosecution proceedings regarding any allegation of a violation or deviation from IDF orders and code of conduct.

Any action by the U.S. Administration to unilaterally impose sanctions on an IDF unit and its soldiers implies that Israel’s military and civil legal, investigative, and prosecution authorities are incapable of or are not dealing with alleged violations.

This is not the case, and advancing such a proposition to impose sanctions on the army of a critical democratic ally like Israel sets a very dangerous precedent concerning the implications such action could have in the various international judicial fora before which Israel is presently called to defend its actions.

If the State Department has any solidly-based suspicions regarding violations by any IDF unit or its soldiers, it is incumbent on the State Department to raise this issue directly with the responsible military and justice authorities in Israel to ascertain whether and what action is being taken to investigate and prosecute such allegations.

It is no less incumbent upon the U.S. State Department to rely only on reliable and authoritative information on this matter and not on partisan, one-sided, political allegations, such as anti-Israel NGOs active on behalf of the Palestinians.