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US finds five Israeli military units guilty of 'gross human rights violations'

Weapons transfers to the units will not be impacted by the State Department's findings, spokesperson says
Israeli soldiers of the Ultra-Orthodox battalion Netzah Yehuda take part in their annual unit training in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, near the Syrian border, on 19 May 2014 (Menahem Kahana/AFP)

The US has found five Israeli units guilty of gross human rights violations, the State Department said on Monday.

The State Department said it had confirmed "individual incidents of gross violations of human rights" against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank before the Hamas-led attack on southern Israel on 7 October. 

"After a careful process, we found five Israeli units responsible for individual incidents of gross violations of human rights. All of these were incidents much before October 7th and none took place in Gaza," State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel said Monday. 

"Four of these units have effectively remediated these violations, which is what we expect partners to do... For a remaining unit, we continue to be in consultations and engagements with the government of Israel."

Patel said the findings would not impact arms transfers. 

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US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken had signalled that a review of Israeli military units was underway. 

Blinken said last week the State Department was conducting investigations under the Leahy law,  which prohibits sending military aid to foreign security forces that violate human rights, adding : "I think it's fair to say that you'll see results very soon. I've made determinations. You can expect to see them in the days ahead."

ABC News reported on Friday that the Biden administration had found at least three military units guilty of human rights violations but decided not to withhold military aid to the units because it believed Israel was addressing the findings.  

The US has been investigating Netzah Yehuda, an ultra-Orthodox Jewish military battalion in the Israeli army, over human rights violations in the occupied West Bank. 

A US State Department panel recommended months ago that Blinken blacklist a number of Israeli military and police units following a review into rights abuses against Palestinians, according to a report last week in ProPublica. 

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