U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy is promoting a bill to suspend U.S. assistance to three elite Israel Defense Forces units, alleging they are involved in human rights violations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Leahy, a Democrat and senior member of the U.S. Senate, wants assistance withheld from the Israel Navy’s Shayetet 13 unit, the undercover Duvdevan unit and the Israel Air Force’s Shaldag unit…
Leahy, who heads the Senate Appropriations Committee’s sub-committee on foreign operations, was the principle [sic] sponsor of a 1997 bill prohibiting the United States from providing military assistance or funding to foreign military units suspected of human rights abuses or war crimes. The law also stipulates that the U.S. Defense Department screen foreign officers and soldiers who come to the United States for training for this purpose.
Leahy wants the new clause to become a part of the U.S. foreign assistance legislation for 2012, placing restrictions on military assistance to Israel, particularly to those three units.
The article continues that Israel’s Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak came to the US to try to talk him out of it:
Barak, who met with Leahy privately, was quoted by [a] senior Israeli official as telling the senator: “The difference between Israel and terror groups or other countries in the Middle East is that we give an accounting and there is monitoring.”
Barak also said the IDF had a strict judiciary with broader powers than the judiciary in the United States armed forces. [He] was also quoted as telling Leahy that the IDF military advocate general is not subservient to the military command, but rather to the attorney general, and has complete autonomy.
“If a Palestinian is injured, he can approach the High Court of Justice,” Barak said. “The investigations undergo judicial review that is independent of commanders. There are dozens of hearings every year that are based on Palestinians’ complaints against soldiers. They reach the highest and most independent authorities,” he said.
I hope Barak said a bit more than that. I hope he said that “the difference between Israel and terror groups” and countries like Syria, is that Israel is neither a terrorist militia whose goal is to kill as many enemy civilians as possible nor a totalitarian dictatorship whose favorite political tool is murder.
He might also have mentioned that during the month of July alone, the aforesaid terror groups launched 17 rockets and one mortar shell from Gaza into Israel. Gaza-based terrorism also included one “small arms shooting” and one explosive device planted on the border fence. In Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem last month, there were 32 firebombs thrown (8 of them in Jerusalem) and 1 explosive device placed.
No one was injured in July, although in the month of June two Israelis were stabbed and one burned by a firebomb. Note that all of these incidents can be described as attempted murder. The internal security service (Shabak) calls the number of incidents in July “a rather low figure.” One of the reasons it’s low is that the units Leahy dislikes often intercept terrorists before they can carry out their missions.
Of course if you or a loved one is burned by a firebomb or perforated by shrapnel from a rocket, it’s not a low figure. But that’s what happens when you frustrate a people who really deserve a state of their own.
But the Palestinian pre-state is out of money. The LA Times reports,
After earning international praise over the last two years for its financial reforms, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is facing its worst cash crunch in years, just as it hopes to prove to the United Nations that it deserves recognition as an independent state.
Palestinian banks, which lent the authority about $200 million to cover shortfalls, have stopped making new loans. Donations from the Arab world have plummeted in recent months. To conserve cash, the authority, which is facing a $35-million monthly shortfall, said it will have to slash yet-unspecified expenditures and services.
In response to possible salary cuts, anxious public employees, including 80,000 security personnel, are threatening to walk off the job if not paid. Banks that once rushed to make home loans to authority employees have begun rejecting applications from government workers as too risky.
80,000 ‘security’ personnel. That’s about one security person for every 20 Palestinians. They should be very secure. But more important, this shows that there simply isn’t an economy in the normal sense — there’s only an enormous international dole, mostly from Europe and the US, neither of which can afford it these days.
Despite its fiscal problems, the PA is determined to meet its most important obligations. The following is from a report presented to the US Congress by the Palestinian Media Watch group in July:
New PA law enacts payment of monthly salaries to terrorists in Israeli prisons:
A law signed and published in the official Palestinian Authority Registry in April 2011 puts all Palestinians and Israeli Arabs imprisoned in Israel for terror crimes on the PA payroll to receive a monthly salary from the PA. [Official PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 15, 2011] This new law, called PA Government Resolution of 2010, numbers 21 and 23, formalizes what has long been a PA practice.
Recipients of the monthly salary:
The PA has defined by law which Palestinians would be considered “prisoners”:
“Anyone imprisoned in the occupation’s [Israel’s] prisons as a result of his participation in the struggle against the occupation.” [Ch. 1 of Law of Prisoners, 2004/19,passed and published by the PA Chairman and Government, December 2004. The Prisoners’ Centre for Studies, www.alasra.ps, Accessed May 9, 2011]
According to the PA definition, more than 5,500 Palestinian prisoners serving time for terror-related offenses are recipients. [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 14, 2011] Palestinian car thieves in Israeli prisons will not receive a salary, but every terrorist in prison including murderers are on the PA payroll. The salary goes directly to the terrorist or the terrorist’s family, and prisoners receive salary from the day of arrest. [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, April 15, 2011]
Hamas and Fatah terrorist prisoners receive monthly salaries:
“The PA’s Ministry for Prisoner Affairs said that its policy had always been to pay salaries to prisoners and their families ‘regardless of their political affiliations.’” [Jerusalem Post, May 20, 2011].
Total amount that the PA pays in salaries to prisoners monthly:
Total: 17,678,247 Shekel ($5,207,000) a month, based on May 2011. [Life and the Market, supplement to Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 19, 2011]
Terrorists in prison receive higher average salary than PA civil servants and military personnel
The families of ‘martyrs’ get paid as well.
So let’s get this straight:
- Sen. Leahy wants to cut aid to Israel insofar as it supports operations to frustrate Palestinian Arab terrorists, who have not stopped trying to kill Israelis — even while they are allegedly on ‘good behavior’ during the run-up to their UN statehood bid.
- The PA received about $600 million from the US last year. More than $5 million is being paid to imprisoned terrorists every month as a ‘salary’ for their contribution to the ‘struggle’.
- Even Hamas members and the families of suicide terrorists are paid!
How about cutting aid to the PA instead?
Update [17 Aug 2011 1051 PDT]: Leahy’s office says the following:
“He has not proposed legislation to withhold U.S. aid to units of the Israel Defense Forces,” [Leahy spokesman David] Carle wrote in an e-mail to Politico. Rather, Carle wrote, the Leahy amendment “applies to U.S. aid to foreign security forces around the globe and is intended to be applied consistently across the spectrum of U.S. military aid abroad.” — JTA
This is supposed to be a ‘denial’ of the report, but all it says is that the amendment may include units in other countries as well.