update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

Gallant: Criticizing entire IDF unit ‘not right path for partners, friends’

“I call on the U.S. administration to withdraw its intention to impose sanctions on the Netzach Yehuda battalion,” the Israeli defense minister said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speak to reporters in Tel Aviv, Oct. 13, 2023. Photo by Chad J. McNeeley/U.S. Department of Defense.
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speak to reporters in Tel Aviv, Oct. 13, 2023. Photo by Chad J. McNeeley/U.S. Department of Defense.

Criticizing an entire Israel Defense Forces unit “casts a heavy shadow on the actions of the IDF, which operates to protect the citizens of Israel,” Yoav Gallant, the Israeli defense minister, stated on Sunday.

“Damage to one battalion affects the entire defense establishment—this is not the right path for partners and friends,” Gallant added, ahead of expected U.S. sanctions on the Netzach Yehuda Infantry Battalion.

Netzach Yehuda is an exclusively male, ultra-Orthodox battalion that, until late 2022, served in the Jordan Valley and Samaria. It has faced accusations of abuse, most notably in the case of 78-year-old Palestinian-American Omar As’ad, who in 2022 died after being detained by the battalion.

“Our friends and our enemies are closely watching the ties between Israel and the United States, now more than ever,” Gallant stated. “I call on the U.S. administration to withdraw its intention to impose sanctions on the Netzach Yehuda battalion.”

On Sunday night, Gallant talked with Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, chief of the IDF general staff, about “the developing report on U.S. intentions to impose sanctions against the IDF’s ‘Netzach Yehuda’ battalion,” according to the defense minister’s office.

“Minister Gallant and Lt. Gen. Halevi discussed various courses of action to prevent this measure from being implemented,” it stated. It added that Gallant spoke on the phone with Antony Blinken, the U.S. secretary of state, and talked earlier in the day with Jack Lew, the U.S. ambassador to Israel.

Later on Sunday night, the U.S. State Department released a readout of Blinken’s conversation with Gallant.

The two “discussed efforts to protect Israel’s security and negotiations to secure the release of hostages, enable an immediate ceasefire and increase the flow of life-saving humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians in Gaza,” Matthew Miller, the U.S. State Department spokesman, stated in a short readout. “The secretary also underscored the importance of measures to de-escalate tensions in the region.”

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