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Netanyahu calls reports of US planning sanctions on Israeli forces a 'height of absurdity and a moral low'

Although Biden did not announce sanctions publically, several top American officials have been increasingly critical of Israel's military offensive in the besieged terrority.

Written By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 Jerusalem Updated on: April 21, 2024 16:43 IST
US President Joe Biden during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year in
Image Source : REUTERS/FILE US President Joe Biden during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last year in Tel Aviv.

Amid reports claiming that the Biden administration is set to blacklist a unit for alleged human rights violations in Gaza, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement condemning sanctions on the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). 

US President Joe Biden, although did not announce sanctions publically, several top American officials have been increasingly critical of Israel's military offensive in the besieged terrority. However, Biden, on multiple occasions, criticised Netanyahu publically over the mounting civilian deaths in the war-torn nation.

Netanyahu's strong message to Biden over media reports

"Sanctions must not be imposed on the Israel Defense Forces," the prime minister wrote. "In recent weeks, I have been working against the imposition of sanctions on Israeli citizens, including in my conversations with senior American government officials. At a time when our soldiers are fighting the monsters of terror, the intention to impose a sanction on a unit in the IDF is the height of absurdity and a moral low. The government headed by me will act by all means against these moves."

Interestingly, Netanyahu's staunch message to the Biden administration came just a few hours after he praised America for unveiling a fresh aid package for Israel. "The US Congress just overwhelmingly passed a much-appreciated aid bill that demonstrates strong bipartisan support for Israel and defends Western civilization. Thank you, friends, thank you America!" he wrote on the social media platform.

Is IDF involved in human rights violations in Gaza?

The latest war of words erupted following a report by Axios, which claimed the Biden administration is expected to announce sanctions against the IDF's "Netzah Yehuda" battalion for alleged human rights abuses in Gaza.

When the reporters asked US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is currently on a visit to Italy, about potential sanctions on IDF, he neither confirmed the media reports nor denied them. In fact, Blinken responded cryptically and said: "Results are expected very soon."

It is worth mentioning ever since the war between the two neighbouring nations commenced following Hamas's deadly attack on Israel in October, the IDF carried out deadly counterstrikes on the besieged territory. Biden, during multiple calls with PM Netanyahu, expressed displeasure over IDF's human rights abuses in Gaza. However, Netanyahu denied such killings in Gaza and asserted he has full right to respond in the interest of Israel. As of writing this article, the Palestinian authorities have claimed over 34,000 civilians have been killed since October 7-- a claim Israel dubbed "fabricated".

Labor Party leader calls govt to dismantle IDF Netzah Yehuda battalion

Surprisingly, the voice against the IDF is now echoing in the political arena of Israel. The leader of the Israeli Labor Party, Merav Michaeli, on Sunday, called on the government to dismantle the IDF’s Netzah Yehuda battalion following the media report. She asserted that the combat unit has a history of abuses against Palestinians. The sanctions are “an acknowledgement of the reality and an understanding that Israel’s conduct in the territories cannot continue,” Times of Israel quoted the leader, explaining that “the violent and corrupt conduct of the Netzah Yehuda Battalion and those around it has been known for years, and nothing has been done to stop it"

“Two years ago, the US established a team to investigate the battalion. The political and military echelons cannot pretend they did not know about it,” she adds, arguing that “instead of wising up and dealing with the situation, we get yet another dose of denial and foot-dragging, lies and covering up the bitter reality” — directly leading to the sanctions.

Also Read: Israeli airstrike in Gaza's Rafah kills 9, including six children, amid Middle East tensions

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