‘The Answer is No’ – Blinken Denies US Double Standard for Israel

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. (Image: Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

The US State Department released the 2023 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices on Monday.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has denied suggestions that Washington has a double standard when it comes to applying the law to Israel and allegations of its military’s human rights violations in the Gaza Strip.

“Do we have a double standard?  The answer is no,” Blinken said in response to a question during a press briefing on Monday on the 2023 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices released by the US State Department.

“As this report makes clear, in general, as we’re looking at human rights and the condition of human rights around the world, we apply the same standard to everyone, and that doesn’t change whether the country in question is an adversary, a competitor, a friend, or an ally,” he added.

Regarding the reports that Israel violated the Leahy laws, Blinken said it was a “good example of a process that is very deliberate, that seeks to get the facts to get all the information that has to be done carefully, and that’s exactly how we proceeded.”

“I think you’ll see in the days ahead that we will have more to say, so please stay tuned on that,” he added.

The Leahy Law, named after former Senator Patrick Leahy, requires the US to withhold military assistance from foreign military or law enforcement units if there is credible evidence of human rights violations.

Netzah Yehuda Sanctions

The American news website Axios reported on Saturday that the US was poised to announce sanctions against the Israeli military’s Netzah Yehuda battalion over human rights violations against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

US to Sanction Israeli Military Unit over West Bank Rights Abuses – Report

This move holds significant importance as “it would be the first time the U.S. imposed sanctions on an Israeli military unit,” according to Axios.

Blinken further said that when “it comes to allegations or incidents of – whether it’s violations of international humanitarian law, rights abuses, you name it, we have processes within the department that are looking at incidents that have been raised.  Those processes are ongoing.”

Israel’s ongoing genocidal war on Gaza, which has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians, and resulted in a severe humanitarian crisis, “had a significant negative impact on the human rights situation in the country,” according to the State Department’s annual report.

The report cites “credible reports” of several significant “human rights issues,” including “arbitrary or unlawful killings, including extrajudicial killings; enforced disappearance; torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by government officials; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest or detention; political prisoners or detainees…”

It continues: “The government took some credible steps to identify and punish officials who may have committed human rights abuses.”

Unlawful Combatants Law

The report also mentioned that after October 7, the Israeli government “amended the Unlawful Combatants Law by emergency regulations, increasing the maximum length of time for detention from 96 hours to 30 days and the length of time a detainee could be held without being brought before a judge from 14 to 45 days.”

Rights groups reported “hundreds, and possibly thousands, of Palestinians detained in Gaza under the Unlawful Combatants Law had no affiliation with Hamas,” the report said.

‘Organized State Terrorism’ – OIC Says Gaza Mass Grave Discovery Requires Investigation

“ Authorities held detainees incommunicado as unlawful combatants in ad hoc facilities, according to PCATI (Public Committee Against Torture in Israel). As of year’s end, it was unknown how many Palestinians authorities continued to detain without charges pursuant to the Unlawful Combatants Law.”

Also on Monday, at a US Department press briefing, spokesperson Matthew Miller was asked about the discovery of a mass grave by the Palestinian Civil Defence crews at the Nasser Medical Complex in Gaza.

Miller replied: “I’ve seen those reports and we are inquiring about it with the Government of Israel.”

At least 310 bodies have been recovered so far from the mass grave at the medical complex after the Israeli army withdrew from the city on April 7, according to Al-Jazeera. The army’s withdrawal followed a four-month ground offensive.

Shocking Discovery: Over 150 Bodies Found in Khan Yunis Mass Grave (VIDEO)

Over 34,000 Killed

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 34,183 Palestinians have been killed, and 77,143 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 7,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip.

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

South Africa Argues ‘Genocidal Intent’ by Israel in Gaza

The Israeli war has resulted in an acute famine, mostly in northern Gaza, resulting in the death of many Palestinians, mostly children.

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire’.

(PC, Anadolu)

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