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News / Nation & World

Ex-U.S. official alleges Israeli military gets ‘special treatment’

By Associated Press
Published: April 24, 2024, 7:42pm

WASHINGTON — A former senior U.S. official who until recently helped oversee human-rights compliance by foreign militaries receiving American military assistance said Wednesday that he repeatedly observed Israel receiving “special treatment” from U.S. officials when it came to scrutiny of allegations of Israeli military abuses of Palestinian civilians.

The allegation comes as the Biden administration faces intense pressure over its ally’s treatment of Palestinian civilians during Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza. And matters because of who said it: Charles O. Blaha. Before leaving the post in August, he was a director of a State Department security and human rights office closely involved in helping ensure that foreign militaries receiving American military aid follow U.S. and international humanitarian and human rights laws.

Blaha said his departure from the State Department after decades of service was not related to the U.S.-Israeli security relationship. He is the second senior State official involved in that relationship to assert that when it comes to Israel, the U.S. is reluctant to enforce laws required of foreign militaries receiving American aid.

“In my experience, Israel gets special treatment that no other country gets,” Blaha said. “And there is undue deference, in many cases, given” to Israeli officials’ side of things when the U.S. asks questions about allegations of Israeli wrongdoing against Palestinians, he added.

He spoke to reporters at an event where he and other members of an unofficial, self-formed panel of former senior U.S. civilian and military officials released a report pointing to civilian deaths in specific airstrikes in Gaza. They said there was “compelling and credible” evidence that Israeli forces had acted illegally.