WASHINGTON (JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said a call by 11 Democrats in the U.S. Congress to investigate alleged human rights abuses by his nation’s military should instead be directed at Palestinian inciters.
“Israel’s soldiers and police officers defend themselves and innocent civilians with the highest moral standards against bloodthirsty terrorists who come to murder them,” said the statement Wednesday issued by Netanyahu’s office.
“Where is the concern for the human rights of the many Israelis who’ve been murdered and maimed by these savage terrorists?” he asked. “This letter should have been addressed instead to those who incite youngsters to commit cruel acts of terrorism.”
The letter to Secretary of State John Kerry sent Feb. 17 and reported first by Politico on Wednesday cites a law that links military assistance to human rights. It was signed by 10 House of Representatives members and one senator, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who authored a law that bars the State and Defense departments from providing military assistance to foreign military units that violate human rights with impunity.
“There have been a disturbing number of reports of possible gross violations of human rights by security forces in Israel and Egypt — incidents that may have involved recipients, or potential recipients, of U.S. military assistance,” the letter said.
The letter cites Amnesty International reports alleging the “extrajudicial killings” of at least four Palestinians, men and women. Among those named are Fadi Alloun, who stabbed a 15-year-old Jewish teen and was shot and killed during the chase to apprehend him; Saad Al-Atrash, who was shot and killed as he tried to stab a soldier in Hebron; and Hadeel Hashlamoum, a Palestinian woman who was shot to death after arriving at a Hebron checkpoint with a knife.