In a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry dated Feb. 17, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and ten House members, including Jim McDermott (D-WA), Hank Johnson (D-GA), Sam Farr (D-CA) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), requested information on the application of the Leahy Law regarding Israel and Egypt, Politico reported Tuesday.
The Leahy Law, or the Leahy amendment, named after its principal sponsor, Senator Leahy, prohibits the State and Defense Departments to provide military assistance to foreign military “units” that violate human rights with impunity.
To implement this law, US embassies, the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, and the appropriate regional bureau of the US Department of State must vet potential recipients of security assistance. If a unit is credibly implicated in a serious abuse of human rights, US assistance must be denied until the government in question takes effective steps to bring the responsible persons within the unit to justice. Press reports have indicated so far that security forces in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Nigeria, Turkey, Indonesia, and Pakistan have been denied assistance under the Leahy Law.
The Leahy letter notes that “according to information we have received, the manner in which US military assistance has been provided to Israel and Egypt, since the Camp David Accords, including the delivery of assistance at the military service level, has created a unique situation that has hindered implementation of normal mechanisms for monitoring the use of such assistance.”
Regarding Israel, specifically, the letter says: “Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have reported what may be extrajudicial killings by the Israeli military and police of Fadi Alloun, Saad Al-Atrash, Hadeel Hashlamoun, and Mutaz Ewisa. There are reports of the use of torture in the cases of Wasim Marouf and Ahmed Mansara.”
“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,” the letter concludes.
Fadi Alloun stabbed a 15-year-old in Jerusalem in early October, 2015, moderately wounding him. The attacker fled and was killed by police fire after they noticed the knife in his hand.
Saad Al-Atrash was killed by soldiers in late October, 2015, after he had attacked them with a knife near a pedestrian checkpoint down the street from the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron.
Hadeel Hashlamoun was shot after attempting to stab an Israeli soldier at an IDF check point in Hebron in September, 2015.
Despite his professed friendship with the late Israeli prime minister Yizthak Rabin, Patrick Leahy is possibly the most vehemently anti-Israeli Senator, rivaled only by his junior Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. In 2011, Leahy demanded that US military assistance be withheld from the Israeli navy’s special force Shayetet 13 unit, the infantry’s special force Duvdevan unit and the Air Force’s special force Shaldag unit, for their involvement, among other things, in the Mavi Marmara incident. According to Ha’aretz at the time, Leahy made his move “after he was approached by voters in his home state of Vermont” and that pro-Palestinian rallies had been held outside his office.
The main victim of the Leahy hoopla will not be the US military assistance to Israel, which will be raised on schedule from three to four billion dollars annually, even under the current administration. The victim is most likely to be the IDF medic who shot a terrorist in Hebron while the latter was on the ground. The young soldier’s case is being deliberated this week, and the military court on Tuesday appeared unconvinced by the prosecution’s case on its face. However, a nudge to the military judges that an acquittal would not play well in Washington DC while the media are focusing on the Leahy gang’s letter could result in a more severe sentence.