Report: Blinken Sitting On Staff Recommendations to Sanction Israeli Military Units Linked to Killings or Rapes

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by Chris Menahan, Information Liberation:

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is refusing to punish Israel for credible human rights abuses — including the sexual torture and “rape by an object” of a 15-year-old boy in Israeli Border Police custody — despite recommendations from staff at the State Department.

From ProPublica, “Blinken Is Sitting on Staff Recommendations to Sanction Israeli Military Units Linked to Killings or Rapes”:

A special State Department panel recommended months ago that Secretary of State Antony Blinken disqualify multiple Israeli military and police units from receiving U.S. aid after reviewing allegations that they committed serious human rights abuses.

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But Blinken has failed to act on the proposal in the face of growing international criticism of the Israeli military’s conduct in Gaza, according to current and former State Department officials.

The incidents under review mostly took place in the West Bank and occurred before Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. They include reports of extrajudicial killings by the Israeli Border Police; an incident in which a battalion gagged, handcuffed and left an elderly Palestinian American man for dead; and an allegation that interrogators tortured and raped a teenager who had been accused of throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails.

Recommendations for action against Israeli units were sent to Blinken in December, according to one person familiar with the memo. “They’ve been sitting in his briefcase since then,” another official said.

[…] “If we had been applying Leahy effectively in Israel like we do in other countries, maybe you wouldn’t have the IDF filming TikToks of their war crimes now because we have contributed to a culture of impunity,” said Josh Paul, a former director in the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs and a member of the vetting forum. Paul resigned in protest shortly after Israel began its bombing campaign of Gaza in October.

[…] Among the allegations reviewed by the committee was the January 2021 arrest of a 15-year old boy by Israeli Border Police. The teen was held for five days at the Al-Mascobiyya detention center on charges that he had thrown stones and Molotov cocktails at security forces. Citing an allegation shared by a Palestinian child welfare nonprofit, forum officials said there was credible information the teen had been forced to confess after he was “subjected to both physical and sexual torture, including rape by an object.”

Two days after the State Department asked the Israeli government for information about what steps it had taken to hold the perpetrators accountable, Israeli police raided the nonprofit that had originally shared the allegation and later designated it a terrorist organization. The Israelis told State Department officials they had found no evidence of sexual assault or torture but reprimanded one of the teen’s interrogators for kicking a chair.

I wonder what could be driving Blinken’s bias?

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