Sen. Leahy Aims to Cut Aid to Israel Defense Forces

Tuesday, 16 Aug 2011 09:06 PM

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Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., seeks to suspend aid to elite units of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), alleging that they are involved in human rights abuses in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to Haaretz. Leahy started pushing the legislation after being approached by Vermont voters.

Leahy claims that the units in question, including Israel’s Shayetet 13, known for its involvement in the clash aboard the Turkish-flagged Mavi Marmara as it aimed to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip last summer, are responsible for harming innocent Palestinian civilians, and that there is no investigatory system to ensure proper behavior by the units’ members.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, a friend of Leahy, says that while visiting the senator two weeks ago, he discussed the IDF’s judiciary system, calling it stricter than that of the United States military. Barak explained that the judiciary in Israel has complete autonomy and that anyone who has been injured “can approach the High Court of Justice,” where claims would undergo “judicial review that is independent of commanders.”

Leahy hopes the new clause will be included in legislation on U.S. foreign assistance in 2012.

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