The United States concluded that five Israeli security force units committed serious human rights violations against Palestinians in the West Bank before the Hamas attack in October, the State Department said on Monday.

Israel has taken remedial measures with four of these units, making US sanctions less likely. Consultations are under way with Israel over the fifth unit, State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel told reporters.

He declined to identify the units, give details of the abuse, or say what measures the Israeli government had taken against them.

A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the fifth unit is part of the army.

Press reports identified a battalion called the Netzah Yehuda, composed mainly of ultra-Orthodox Jews, as being accused of abuses.

It is about 1,000-strong and, since 2022, has been stationed in the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since 1967.

All the incidents took place before the October 7 Hamas attack and were not in Gaza, Patel said.

“Four of these units have effectively remediated these violations, which is what we expect partners to do.” Israel provided “additional information” about the fifth unit, he added.

US law bars the government from funding or arming foreign security forces against which there are credible allegations of human rights abuses.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted angrily to recent news reports that the United States might slap sanctions against a unit of the Israeli military because of human rights abuses, saying that the army should not be punished with the country at war.

Patel said that the United States is continuing its evaluation of the fifth army unit and has not decided whether to deny it US military assistance.

In an election year, more people are calling for the United States to make its billions of dollars in annual military aid to Israel contingent on more concern for Palestinian civilians. Pro-Palestinian protests are also sweeping US college campuses.

With AFP