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US Sanctions Far-Right Israeli Group for Attacking Aid Convoys heading to Gaza

The sanctions target Tsav 9, a group linked to far-right Israeli army reservists and Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank.

 US sanctions Tsav 9
Tsav 9 in the Hebron Hills region, May 13, 2023 attached aid convoy to Gaza/ Video screenshot used following Clause 27a of the Copyright Law

The US imposed sanctions on an Israeli group, Tsav 9, on Friday for attacking humanitarian aid convoys bound for starving civilians in Gaza, U.S. officials told Reuters. This move is the latest targeting elements Washington believes threaten peace prospects between Israelis and Palestinians.

The sanctions target Tsav 9, a group linked to Israeli army reservists and Jewish settlers in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, for activities such as blocking, harassing, and damaging aid shipments. The sanctions will be imposed under an executive order on West Bank violence signed by President Joe Biden in February. This order was previously used to impose financial restrictions on Jewish settlers involved in attacks on Palestinians and a Palestinian militant group.

The American government freezes any assets the group holds under U.S. jurisdiction and bars Americans from dealing with it.

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In recent months, the Biden administration has started imposing sanctions on extremist West Bank settlers. In March, the US imposed sanctions on three Israelis and two illegal outpost farms owned by them, accusing them of using the outposts as a base for attacks against Palestinians. This marked the first time that sanctions were imposed on West Bank outposts linked to violence against Palestinians.

In February, the US imposed sanctions on four settlers who were accused of violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.

On May 13, Numerous young settlers established their own checkpoints to interrogate drivers. Members of Tsav 9 looted and then set fire to two aid trucks near the West Bank city of Hebron. There have also been incidents where people transporting aid to Gaza have been attacked, resulting in two Palestinian drivers being hospitalized.

After the May 13 attack, Tsav 9 said it acted to stop supplies from reaching Hamas and accused the Israeli government of giving “gifts” to the Islamist group.

In related news, there have been calls for an arrest warrant against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu due to his administration’s handling of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Critics argue that Netanyahu’s policies and the actions of groups like Tsav 9 contribute to the ongoing suffering of civilians in the region.

“For months, individuals from Tzav 9 have repeatedly sought to thwart the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza, including by blocking roads, sometimes violently, along their route from Jordan to Gaza, including transiting the West Bank,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement. “They also have damaged aid trucks and dumped life-saving humanitarian aid onto the road.”

US sanctions Tsav 9
Tsav 9 blocking the Nitzana goods crossing are forcibly removed by police during protests against the transfer of humanitarian aid to Gaza by Israel, April 11, 2024. (Courtesy Tzav 9)

Palestinians and human rights groups have long accused the Israeli military and police of deliberately failing to intervene when settlers attack Palestinians in the West Bank.

“We’ll continue to use all tools at our disposal to promote accountability for those who attempt to undertake or perpetrate such heinous acts,” Forsberg said. “We have raised this at all levels of the government of Israel, and we expect that Israeli authorities will do the same.”

Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), a U.S.-based human rights group, recently called for sanctions on Tsav 9, highlighting that the group raises funds from Israeli companies and Israeli and U.S. non-profit organizations. DAWN also stated that such vigilante groups have enjoyed impunity from Israeli authorities.



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