Leahy Asks Kerry to Investigate if U.S. Aid Contributes to Israeli 'Human Rights Violations'

Senior Senator, along with 10 Democratic Congressmen, ask the State Department to investigate alleged 'gross violations of human rights,' namely Israel's alleged extrajudicial killings of Palestinians.

AP

Senior Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, along with 10 Democratic Congressmen, sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry asking him to investigate the alleged involvement of the Israel Defense Forces and Israeli police forces in carrying out extrajudicial killings of Palestinian terrorists, against the background of U.S. military aid to the IDF.

"There have been a disturbing number of reports of possible gross violations of human rights by security forces in Israel and Egypt," the Congressmen wrote in the letter, sent February 17, first reported in Politico. "[These] incidents that may have involved recipients, or potential recipients, of U.S. military assistance. We urge you to determine if these reports are credible and to inform us on your findings."

The letter details several incidents reported on by "Amnesty International" and other human rights organizations in which Israeli army and police units allegedly carried out extrajudicial killings of Palestinians. The letter mentions the names of several Palestinian assailants involved in stabbing attacks, such as Fadi Alloun, who stabbed a 15-year-old Jewish youth and was shot to death in the ensuing chase; Saad Al-Atrash, who was shot to death as he tried to stab a soldier in Hebron; Hadeel Hashlamoum, who was shot to death after arriving at a Hebron checkpoint with a knife; and Mutaz Ewisa.

Leahy and the other signatories notes that the nature of U.S. military aid to Israel on the tactical level makes it difficult to monitor the use of such assistance.

"In light of these reports we request that you act promptly to determine their credibility and whether they trigger the Leahy Law and, if so, take appropriate action called for under the law."

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Leahy, head of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee of Defense, is considered one of the most senior senators in Congress. The Leahy Law, enacted in 1997, prohibits U.S. funding from equipping or training foreign military forces suspected of human rights abuses or war crimes. As a result, the U.S. Department of Defense - among other things - filters foreign officers and soldiers who come to the U.S. for training.

Leahy promoted a bill several years ago aimed at imposing restrictions on U.S. military aid to Israel, in particular the Israel Navy's Shayetet 13, the Israeli Air Force's Shaldag and the undercover Duvdevan units, on the grounds that they harm innocent Palestinians and the lack of mechanism to ensure they do not violate human rights. Leahy proposed the same restrictions on military aid to countries such as Egypt, Pakistan and Jordan. However, the move never came to fruition.