In a watershed moment in US-Israel relations, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are facing sanctions from the United States over alleged human rights violations against Palestinians in the West Bank. This unprecedented move came after the US House of Representatives’ approval of a US$26 billion aid package to Israel.

The House passed the funding package for Israel amid its ongoing war on Gaza and escalating tensions with Iran. This financial aid is aimed at boosting Israel’s military capabilities.

The focus of the sanctions is the Netzah Yehuda battalion, accused of perpetrating serious human rights abuses against Palestinians. Under the 1997 Leahy law, the proposed sanctions would block the transfer of US military aid to the battalion and prohibit soldiers and officers from participating in US-funded military programmes or training. The Leahy law prohibits military assistance to units engaged in gross human rights violations.

The announcement has elicited strong reactions from Israeli political leaders, who have expressed anger and dismay over the prospect of US sanctions. Reports from Haaretz suggest that the US is contemplating similar measures against other Israeli police and military units.

The IDF has stated that any decision regarding sanctions, if made, will be subject to review, emphasising the unit’s commitment to maintaining the values of the IDF and adhering to principles of international law.

In a separate development, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has urged the country’s armed forces to learn from enemy tactics, praising Iran’s recent launch of hundreds of missiles and drones at Israel.

Iran’s recent missile strike targeting Israel, a first of its kind openly acknowledged by Tehran, has garnered attention for both its symbolic significance and operational outcomes. During a meeting with Iran’s armed forces brass, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei emphasised the demonstration of Iran’s will-power through the strike.

On 13 April, Tehran launched a retaliatory strike against Israel with more than 300 ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and armed drones. However, the strike’s operational effectiveness was limited, with the majority of projectiles falling short of their targets.

Meanwhile, a series of Israeli attacks rocked Gaza overnight, killing dozens of Palestinians, including 14 children. Emergency services in Gaza retrieved the bodies of 50 Palestinians from a mass grave at the Nasser Medical Complex in Khan Younis. This discovery comes two weeks after Israeli forces withdrew from the area.

Since the start of its military onslaught in Gaza on 7 October, Israel has killed at least 34,097 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and wounded 76,980 others.