Netzach Yehuda soldiers
Netzach Yehuda soldiersIDF

Axios reported Saturday evening that the USA is expected, over the course of the next week, to impose sanctions on the IDF Netzach Yehuda battalion.

The sanctions will prevent the transfer of American aid or equipment to the battalion, and prevent its officers from training with USA forces.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made the decision based on incidents that happened in Judea and Samaria before the October 7th massacre. The battalion is considered one of the more popular destinations for "hilltop youth" seeking enlistment in the IDF, and has been accused of abusive conduct towards Palestinian Authority Arabs in the past.

Secretary Blinken stated that the sanctions were called for under the Leahy law that forbids aid to foreign militaries that violate international law, and that the decision had been made after a lengthy and careful investigation.

The USA investigation against them has been underway since late 2022, when soldiers from the battalion left Omar Assad, a Palestinian Authority Arab with American citizenship, handcuffed and gagged in cold conditions for several hours, after which he was found dead.

The IDF stated that it was investigating the incident and would take disciplinary or administrative action against those responsible, as well as its deep regret for the PA Arab's death. Shortly afterwards, the battalion was reassigned to the Golan Heights.

Prime Minister Netanyahu commented on the sanctions against Netzach Yehuda: “It is forbidden to sanction the IDF. I have been working for the last weeks against sanctions targeting Israelis, including in my conversations with senior American officials. While our soldiers are fighting the monster of terrorism, the intention to sanction a unit in the IDF is a new height of absurdity and a moral low. The government I lead will work against this step in every possible way.”

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich denounced the move: "The American decision to sanction the IDF while Israel is fighting for its existence is completely insane."

Minister Benny Gantz said it was a tactical blunder: "Netzach Yehuda is an inseparable part of the IDF. Sanctions against it send the wrong message to our enemies."

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir threatened action of his own: ''If the Defense Minister does not support Netzach Yehuda against the sanctions, I will ask that they be transferred to the Border Police under my control. We will welcome them as heroes.''

Minister Ofir Sofer called the sanctions ''Wind in our enemies' sails."

MKs from several parties have also spoken out against the sanctions, with comments including 'modern antisemitism' and 'absolute insanity'.