Holding the IDF accountable for human rights violations
IPMN Response to the congressional letter on adherance to the Leahy Law
April 8, 2016 — IPMN, The Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA), stands with Congressional Representatives* calling for an investigation into human rights violations by Israeli and Egyptian military forces.
“We are encouraged by the recent congressional concerns regarding human rights violations by Israeli and Egyptian military forces.” said Rev. Dr. Jeff DeYoe, moderator of IPMN. “We applaud the effort, led by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) and Senator Patrick Leahy (D –VT) and the Democratic members of Congress who have asked Sec. of State John Kerry to investigate disturbing reports of human rights violations by both these countries.”
If the reports are found credible by investigators, the U.S. will be in violation of its own “Leahy Law” in effect since the late 90s, aimed at preventing American military aid going to “any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.”
The congressional letter was in response to earlier extra-judicial killings by Israeli and Egyptian military forces. The shocking execution by an Israeli soldier of Palestinian Abdel-Fattah al-Sharif as he lay wounded in the street in Hebron, happened after the congressional letter was sent to the State Department calling for an investigation into extra-judicial killings.
“The execution-style killing was caught on video and is horrifying to watch, as a pool of blood seeps out of the man’s head who was shot as he was lying motionless in the street.” said Dr. Nahida Gordon, treasurer of IPMN. “The video not only shows with undeniable evidence that the shooting is a crime, but it also exposes the ‘banality of evil’ rife in the wider culture of the Israeli military,” she said.
The Presbyterian Church has a proud history of standing witness on the side of justice in conflicts around the world. Specifically on military aid, in 2010, our denomination expressed “its support for the U.S. government policy of carefully vetting the funds distributed to foreign countries in ways that ensure peaceful development and are consistent with international law, human rights protections, and U.S. foreign policy…” Further on Israel, we expressed our “extreme disappointment with the U.S. government that while the State of Israel has been found not to comply with [U.S.] statutes, it continues to be the recipient of U.S. military aid.”
The 2010 Presbyterian resolution on seeking compliance with US policies was a key factor in what became known as “The Letter of 15,” a letter signed by church leaders of 15 communions in October of 2012, asking Congress to condition military aid to Israel on their compliance to human rights.
*The IPMN expresses its gratitude to Rep. Hank Johnson (GA) for spearheading and writing the letter, and to Senator Patrick Leahy (VT) and Reps. Andre Carson (IN), Sam Farr (CA), Raúl Grijalva (AZ), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX), Betty McCollum (MN), Jim McDermott (WA), James McGovern (MA) and Chellie Pingree (ME) for signing it.