U.S. Rebuke of IDF Unit: Ironclad Injury and Insult to Israel

On April 20, Axios reported the Biden administration’s plans to impose sanctions against the Netzah Yehuda battalion of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) over alleged human rights abuses in the West Bank, which have already been investigated and resulted in disciplinary action by the IDF. This would be the first time the United States has threatened to take such action against any part of the IDF and an unprecedented rebuke of an ally at war.

Although it has now been reported that the Biden administration will not proceed with sanctions at this time, recent reports suggest that the United States may indeed withhold aid to the unit if certain vague “steps” are not undertaken by Israel. Additionally, the United States has made a legal determination that IDF units committed human rights violations. Such a determination, and its public airing, send a dangerous message to adversaries about U.S. support for Israel, undermine IDF readiness, open doors for similar measures against Israel by the international community, and encourage Iran and its proxies to further escalate regional attacks. Moreover, it flies in the face of the intention of the “Leahy Law,” which has clear exceptions for partner nations that reprimand instances of human rights violations and face national security emergencies.