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US cites litany of human rights abuses in Israel, Gaza and West Bank

US cites litany of human rights abuses in Israel, Gaza and West Bank


The conflict in Gaza has worsened the human rights situation in Israel, the State Department said in a new report released Monday, although officials declined to say whether they would end U.S. aid to the elements of the Israeli army due to alleged abuses.

The State Department's annual human rights report cites several human rights violations committed in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza in 2023 by parties including the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), the Hamas militants and the Palestinian Authority, before and after the fall of the Hamas attacks of October 7. the Middle East amidst increased instability and violence.

The resulting conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip has had a significant negative impact on the human rights situation in Israel, the report said. He cites credible reports of unlawful killings carried out by both Hamas and the Israeli government.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Oct. 7 attacks, which killed about 1,200 people, and the subsequent civilian deaths during Israel's military response in Gaza also raised deeply troubling security concerns. human rights.

But Blinken did not announce a move that the Israeli government said could be imminent to suspend U.S. aid to elements of the Israeli military over alleged human rights abuses. While the Biden administration has refused to say whether it plans to bar aid to any unit under the Leahy laws, Israeli officials have issued preemptive protests in recent days against such a move.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, a member of Israel's special war cabinet, warned the administration over the weekend against targeting the Netzah Yehuda battalion, which he said plays an important role in the battle for Israel against Hamas and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. In 2022, the Israeli military sanctioned several officials following the death of an elderly Palestinian American man while detained in the unit.

Blinken said the United States would continue to evaluate foreign countries' human rights records and could potentially authorize consequences for countries that fail to do so, regardless of their enemy or enemy status. partner of the United States. Washington has long been Israel's main ally and military supporter.

Just as we look at human rights and the human rights situation around the world, we apply the same standards to everyone, he told reporters. This does not change whether the country in question is an adversary or competitor, a friend or an ally.

Such a designation, if it occurs, would likely increase friction between President Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a time of intense tension over Israel's conduct of its war in Gaza and its failure to ensure that civilians trapped there- low have enough food and medicine.

The report referred to the deaths of more than 21,000 people in the Gaza Strip through the end of 2023. Robert Gilchrist, head of the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor , declined to say how the department determined those numbers and whether they were accurate. were based primarily on figures from Gaza health authorities, which Israeli officials have long claimed are controlled by Hamas and provide exaggerated information.

Blinken said the State Department continued to evaluate allegations by human rights groups that Israeli forces violated international law in Gaza, but said Israel had shown it would seek accountable to its own people and its institutions.

This is what differentiates democracies from other countries: the ability, the will and the determination to look at themselves, he said.

The report says Israeli authorities have taken some steps to identify and punish officials accused of committing human rights abuses in the West Bank, where U.S. officials have long criticized Israeli settlements and violence. settlers against the Palestinians. The administration announced new sanctions last week linked to individuals accused of stoking violence in that country.

But he said Israeli authorities operating in Gaza had taken no publicly visible steps to identify and punish officials involved in alleged violations there.

Because the report covers the year 2023, it does not address the aftermath of a high-profile incident in which the Israeli military targeted an international aid convoy in April, killing seven people. An initial Israeli investigation into the incident found that the IDF violated its own regulations. At least two officers were fired and other officials were reprimanded.

But in many other cases where rights groups have cried foul, including Israel's targeting of hospitals or apartment buildings in Gaza, Israel has cited Hamas's practice of hiding activists among the civilians and declared that its own operations were in compliance with international law.




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