CAPRI, Italy — Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday he has made “determinations” related to a set of accusations that Israel violated U.S. laws prohibiting the provision of military assistance to policy or security units that commit gross violations of human rights.

Blinken told reporters that the results of his decision would be made public in the coming days. It was his first acknowledgment that a panel within the department had reviewed serious charges against multiple Israeli units that receive U.S. aid.

“I made determinations. You can expect to see them in the days ahead,” Blinken said.

Blinken’s remarks came in response to a report by the investigative news outlet ProPublica that the panel known as the Israel Leahy Vetting Forum had recommended to Blinken months ago that certain Israeli units be banned from receiving U.S. aid because of gross human rights violations. The incidents took place in the West Bank and mostly occurred before Israel’s war with Hamas, the outlet reported.

The Leahy Laws refer to the landmark legislation by then-Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) that prohibit providing military assistance to individuals or security force units that commit gross violations of human rights with impunity. They have resulted in hundreds of foreign police and military units being blocked from receiving U.S. aid — in countries including Colombia, Mexico and Cambodia.

Current and former U.S. officials have also told The Washington Post that several Israeli units including border police and special forces have come under scrutiny in the package awaiting Blinken’s decision.

The State Department has declined to specify which alleged violations were under review, but a number of controversial incidents have been compiled by watchdogs inside and outside the U.S. government.

In one of the cases, an army unit is accused of bounding and gagging a Palestinian American citizen at a construction site, after detaining him at a late-night roadblock in the village of Jiljiliya.

Omar Assad, 78, was found unresponsive in the early hours of Jan. 12, 2022. A medical exam released by the Palestinian Ministry of Justice described his cause of death as “stress-induced sudden cardiac arrest due to external violence.”

He had been tightly bound and blindfolded, found with abrasions on his wrists and bleeding on the insides of his eyelids, the medical exam said. According to details of an Israel Defense Forces probe leaked to Israeli media, soldiers and officers at the scene told investigators they had gagged Assad and forcibly marched him to the construction site because they didn’t want his shouting to alert others to the presence of the checkpoint.

They denied that he showed any signs of distress and said he was alive when they left him.

In another incident, an Israeli interrogator is alleged to have physically and sexually assaulted a 15-year old Palestinian boy, after he was detained by Israeli border police forces from his East Jerusalem home on Jan. 13, 2021. The boy was accused of throwing stones and molotov cocktails. Documentation by Defense for Children International – Palestine, a monitoring group, said that the abuse described in his testimony amounted to torture.

Among the most significant units to face scrutiny is the Yamam, the elite unit of Israel’s border police that focuses on counterterrorism operations, including raids in civilian areas. A Washington Post investigation last year found that the unit had opened fire in a crowded street in the West Bank city of Jenin in March 2023, killing a 14-year-old boy and two militants, neither of whom were visibly armed. One of the men was shot multiple times after he was incapacitated — an apparent extrajudicial execution that experts said could violate Israeli law.

“Agents from the Israeli YAMAM unit acted as judge, jury and executioner when they shot and killed two Palestinian men in broad daylight in Jenin on March 16, 2023, a textbook example of an extrajudicial killing by Israeli forces who are used to operating with impunity,” said Adam Shapiro, director of advocacy at Democracy for the Arab World Now, in July. The organization filed a submission on the case to the State Department, arguing that the case fit the criteria to trigger Leahy Law vetting and sanction. “If the State Department does not apply the Leahy Law in this case, the law may as well not exist,” Shapiro said.

Rights groups say that the abuse of Palestinians in custody is commonplace, and that tactics used during urban raids frequently contravene international humanitarian law. Israel’s police and army insist that they operate within the law.

When asked about the cases on Friday, Blinken said the Leahy legislation was a “very important law.”

“It’s one that we apply across the board. And when we’re doing these investigations, these inquiries, it’s something that takes time. That has to be done very carefully, both in collecting the facts and analyzing them,” he said. “And that’s exactly what we’ve done. And I think it’s fair to say that you’ll see results very soon.”

Israel’s military conduct as well as the billions of dollars of U.S. military assistance provided by Washington has come under increasing scrutiny as the death toll of Palestinians in Gaza climbs to 34,000, according to local health authorities.

The Israeli assault into Gaza followed Hamas’s cross-border attack that killed 1,200 people and took more than 240 hostages.

The United States provides Israel more than $3.8 billion of military aid per year and the Biden administration has flooded the country with thousands of bombs and artillery since Oct. 7. For the first time, President Biden in April threatened to condition aid to Israel if it did not take specific steps to protect aid workers and provide additional humanitarian assistance to the enclave.

The Biden administration has been much more comfortable criticizing Israel’s policies in the West Bank than in Gaza, where the war is occurring and where thousands of Hamas fighters are believed to still be actively engaged. On Friday, the administration imposed sanctions on two entities accused of fundraising for extremist settlers in the West Bank who have assaulted Palestinians.



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