A military plane carrying American armor arrives at an airport in Israel (Israeli Ministry of Security)

Washington -

With the escalation of Israeli occupation violence in the West Bank since Operation Al-Aqsa Flood on October 7, the number of Palestinian victims has so far reached about 500 martyrs, according to documented media reports.

The United Nations said, "The majority of them were martyred at the hands of Israeli forces, but at least 8 of them were killed by Israeli settlers."

The US government called on the Israeli authorities to provide urgent clarifications regarding violations committed by the Israeli occupation forces against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, amid great concern among a number of Democratic lawmakers about President Joe Biden’s administration violating the “Leahy Law,” which stipulates a ban on the supply of weapons to security agencies. , which violates American standards for preserving human rights.

What is Leahy's law?

The term "Leahy Act" refers to two legal provisions passed by Congress in 1997 that prohibit the US government from providing assistance to foreign security forces or units if there is reliable information indicating that these units are involved in committing gross human rights violations.

The law is named after the late Senator from Vermont, Patrick Leahy, and its implementation requires the Departments of State and Defense to stop the transfer of US military aid to “any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has reliable information that it has committed a gross violation of human rights.”

The "Leahy Law" was passed by Congress in 1997 prohibiting the provision of aid to those involved in human rights violations (Al Jazeera)

Israel is an exception

Laura Lomb and William Hartung, from the Quincy Institute in Washington, argued that the ruling issued by the International Court of Justice regarding South Africa’s lawsuit regarding Israel’s possible involvement in genocide in Gaza should prompt the administration of President Joe Biden to review current American policy. , regarding the supply of weapons to Israel that are used in attacks on the Gaza Strip.

The writers also called for abandoning the practice of granting Israel special and exceptional treatment when it comes to enforcing existing US human rights laws regarding arms transfers.

The "Israeli exception" in providing US military aid to Israel has long been a practice that has been practiced by Democratic and Republican administrations in recent decades, as human rights standards or violations of US laws have not been invoked by Israel.

In the days following the October 7, 2023 attack on Israel, the Ministry of Defense began sending weapons to Israel, including small diameter bombs, precision-guided munitions, armored tanks, artillery shells and ammunition.

The White House and Pentagon said at the time that they would not set "red lines" for Israeli military activities in Gaza. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stressed on October 12 that the United States “did not place any conditions on providing” American weapons and aid to Israel.

Despite the occurrence of numerous murders in the West Bank at the hands of Israeli security forces during the last four months, and before that the assassination of Al Jazeera correspondent Sherine Abu Aqla, the US government did not find any justification to activate the law.

“The proactive vetting process is typically reversed for Israel, where allegations are reviewed only after they have been "The United States is already providing assistance."

Paul added in press interviews, “Traditionally, it takes one person, and one signal, to stop providing military assistance, but in the case of Israel, it requires consensus from all stakeholders to stop it. And again, this consensus was not reached, despite the availability of allegations.” Convincing, alarming and credible evidence of serious human rights violations.”

Two weeks ago, the British newspaper The Guardian explained how the US State Department applied special standards to Israel to essentially circumvent the Leahy Law.

Unlike other countries, where a credible allegation of mistreatment by a unit of the military, police, or other national security forces is sufficient to prevent that unit from receiving US assistance until the matter is adjudicated, for Israel there must be consensus among all State Department offices.

Two American researchers: South Africa's lawsuit should prompt the Biden administration to review the supply of weapons to Israel (Al Jazeera)

Biden is moving slowly

The Biden administration is pressing Israel to provide answers regarding a series of incidents that it says Israeli army units operating in occupied West Bank cities may have violated the Leahy Law.

The American request indicates that if Israel fails to provide satisfactory answers, its forces operating in the West Bank will not receive ammunition from the United States.

Last week, the Biden administration issued an executive order punishing “persons who undermine peace, security, and stability in the West Bank,” citing “high levels of extremist settler violence, forced displacement of people and villages, and destruction of property.”

President Biden agreed to impose sanctions on 4 Israeli settlers accused of attacking Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. Biden signed an executive order stating that violence in the West Bank had reached “unbearable levels,” and the sanctions prevent these individuals from accessing any property or assets they have within the United States.

Representative from Michigan, Rashida Tlaib, of Palestinian origin, expressed in a tweet on the “X” website her rejection of the US administration’s position.

She said, "It is unbelievable that President Joe Biden has not yet reviewed whether the United States is violating the Leahy Law or the laws regarding the transfer of conventional weapons sent to the Israeli government. Accountability must be applied regardless of whether the president belongs to the Republican or Democratic Party."

Source: Al Jazeera