Top US officials quietly reviewed more than a dozen incidents of alleged gross violations of human rights by Israeli security forces since 2020, but have gone to great lengths to preserve continued access to US weapons for the units responsible for the alleged violations, contributing – former US officials say – to the sense of impunity with which Israel has approached its war in Gaza.
An estimated 24,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have been killed by Israeli forces since Hamas’s 7 October attack on Israel, a death toll that has spurred condemnation of the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the US president, Joe Biden, who has been criticized for failing to rein in Israel’s “indiscriminate” bombing of Gaza.
An investigation by the Guardian, which was based on a review of internal state department documents and interviews with people familiar with sensitive internal deliberations, reveals how special mechanisms have been used over the last few years to shield Israel from US human rights laws, even as other allies’ military units who receive US support – including, sources say, Ukraine – have privately been sanctioned and faced consequences for committing human rights violations.
State department officials have in effect been able to circumvent the US law that is meant to prevent US complicity in human rights violations by foreign military units – the 1990s-era Leahy law, named after the now retired Vermont senator Patrick Leahy – because, former officials say, extraordinary internal state department policies have been put in place that show extreme deference to the Israeli government. No such special arrangements exist for any other US ally. [Continue reading…]