In the realm of global politics, the issue of human rights violations has often been used as a tool to exert pressure on nations. Recent events have shed light on the questionable actions of the United States (US) in addressing human rights abuses. In recent years, the international community has witnessed a growing concern over the selective approach adopted by the US when it comes to addressing human rights violations.
While the US claims to champion human rights and democracy, its actions have come under scrutiny for apparent biases and inconsistencies. The sanction case of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and the Israeli Defence Force (IDF)’s alleged human rights violations that have seemingly escaped similar consequences serve as poignant examples that demand our attention. The apparent bias displayed by the Biden administration in dealing with these cases raises fundamental questions about the consistency and credibility of US foreign policy.
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The RAB, an elite force in Bangladesh, found itself in the crosshairs of the US administration, which imposed sanctions based on allegations of human rights abuses. However, when it comes to the IDF, which has faced numerous accusations of violations against the Palestinian people, the US response has been markedly different. This glaring contrast has raised serious questions about the integrity and impartiality of US foreign policy, prompting a closer examination of the factors at play.
It is worth noting that the US has a history of double standards when dealing with human rights issues. While the RAB was subjected to sanctions, other nations with far more extensive records of human rights abuses have often escaped such consequences. The case of Saudi Arabia, for instance, highlights the US’s willingness to overlook alleged violations committed by key allies. Despite the widely reported human rights abuses in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been involved in a protracted conflict, the US has continued to support and provide arms to the Saudi regime. Moreover, the US response to human rights violations also appears to be influenced by geopolitical considerations. In the case of Iran, for example, the US has consistently targeted its human rights record while largely ignoring the actions of its allies. This apparent bias has led to criticisms that the US applies a different set of standards to smaller countries while overlooking the transgressions of major powers and strategic allies. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict further underscores the US’s uneven approach to human rights violations. The IDF, the military force responsible for maintaining Israeli security, has faced numerous allegations of excessive use of force, collective punishment, and illegal settlements in Palestinian territories. Despite numerous reports and investigations by reputable international organizations documenting these violations, the US has refrained from imposing any significant sanctions on Israel. As the Biden administration assumed power with a promise to restore a commitment to human rights, the disparities in its approach to the RAB and the IDF’s alleged human rights violations have called into question the credibility of these claims. This inconsistency in the US response raises concerns about the political calculations and biases that shape its foreign policy decisions.
THE IDF’S HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
The IDF has long faced allegations of human rights violations in its conflict with Palestine. Numerous reports and investigations by international human rights organizations have documented incidents of excessive use of force, unlawful killings, arbitrary arrests, and the demolition of Palestinian homes. These actions not only violate the rights of Palestinians but also contravene international humanitarian law. Let us now examine three specific incidents that highlight the gravity of these violations.
Killing of Palestinian-American elderly man
In one distressing incident, a 78-year-old Palestinian-American man named Omar Assad died following his arrest by Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank. According to his relatives, Assad was detained using rough treatment after returning home late at night. In January 2022, Assad was driving home to the village of Jiljilya when he was stopped at a temporary checkpoint. The Israeli soldiers claimed he resisted attempts to lead him away from his car and, due to his perceived resistance; they briefly gagged him and bound his hands. Assad was taken to a nearby building, where three other Palestinians were also detained. His dead body was later discovered there. Palestinian doctors indicated that Assad, who had previously undergone heart surgery, experienced sudden cardiac arrest caused by the stress of physical violence. A post-mortem examination revealed abrasions on his wrists and bleeding on the insides of his eyelids, suggesting physical trauma. Despite these findings, the Israeli Military Advocate General decided not to pursue criminal charges against the soldiers involved. The US government recognised Assad as an American citizen and sought clarification from Israel regarding the circumstances surrounding his death. However, despite international calls for a thorough investigation, no significant actions have been taken against the Israeli soldiers involved, raising concerns about accountability for their actions.
Targeted killing of journalist Abu Akleh
The targeted killing of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh has sparked outrage and calls for accountability. Abu Akleh, a Palestinian American journalist, was well-known and respected for her reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, bringing the voices and stories of Palestinians to the world. Her death occurred while she was reporting on an Israeli raid in the West Bank city of Jenin.
Multiple investigations, including those conducted by Bellingcat, CNN, and the AP, have suggested that Abu Akleh’s killing was a targeted attack by Israeli forces rather than a result of stray bullets or crossfire. The evidence, including videos, photos, and eyewitness testimonies, indicates that she was deliberately shot and killed. The Israeli Defence Forces initially claimed that Palestinian fighters were responsible for her death, but their assertions were refuted by research conducted by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, which revealed that the video circulated by Israeli authorities was filmed at a location far away from where Abu Akleh was killed. The immediate aftermath of Abu Akleh’s death was marred by further violence and disrespect. Mourners carrying her coffin were attacked by Israeli riot police, who fired tear gas and stun grenades at the procession. The images of police brutality drew global attention and condemnation, adding to the outrage surrounding Abu Akleh’s killing. The family of Abu Akleh has criticised the Israeli response, particularly the statement of “sorry” offered by an Israeli army spokesperson. They argue that an apology without accountability or acknowledgment of responsibility is insufficient. The family is seeking justice and accountability for her death, emphasising the need for action rather than mere words. They have called for an independent investigation into the killing and have been advocating for support and intervention from the US. Despite initial calls for accountability and an independent investigation, the US response has been criticised for accepting the Israeli version of events and failing to take decisive action. The Biden administration has urged Israel to change its military rules of engagement to prevent similar incidents in the future but has not pushed for a thorough investigation into Abu Akleh’s killing. The US, which maintains a strong alliance and provides significant financial aid to Israel, has failed to push for an in-depth investigation into the killing. This discrepancy in the US response highlights its hypocritical stance when it comes to advocating for justice and accountability in cases involving its allies, thereby undermining its credibility as a champion of press freedom and human rights.
Killing of a three-year-old child
Perhaps one of the most heartbreaking examples is the killing of a three-year-old Palestinian child, whose life was tragically cut short due to the actions of Israeli forces. Mohammed Tamimi and his father were shot while leaving their home in Nabi Saleh, in the occupied West Bank. The death of an innocent child underscores the devastating consequences of the IDF’s actions and the toll they take on Palestinian lives. Such incidents highlight the urgent need for measures to protect civilians, especially the most vulnerable, during times of conflict.
Nightmare unleashed: The ongoing human rights violations in Palestine
As the dawn shattered the peaceful silence of the Tamimi household, Mohammed Tamimi was abruptly awakened by the chilling echoes of screaming and pounding at his front door. Terrified, he remained in his bed, his heart pounding with fear, only to witness Israeli soldiers barging into his room, dragging his father along. In that moment, Mohammed knew his life was about to be shattered. The Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh, accustomed to Israeli forces’ night raids, once again witnessed a harrowing scene of oppression. Mohammed, just 15 years old and recently released from the hospital after being shot in the head by Israeli forces, found himself arrested alongside ten other young Palestinians.
His words echoed the anguish and resilience of a people enduring unimaginable hardships: “They hit me on my legs, they slap my face and they didn’t want to even notice what’s going on with my head.” Mohammed’s ordeal is not an isolated incident; it represents countless stories of human rights violations inflicted upon Palestinians by the Israeli forces. Names like Ahed Tamimi, Nour Tamimi, Mohammad Abu Khdeir, Razan al-Najjar, and countless others have become symbols of the ongoing injustices suffered by the Palestinian people. The world must not turn a blind eye to these egregious violations, for every voice silenced, and every dream shattered is a testament to the urgency of seeking justice and freedom for the Palestinian people.
These events, along with numerous other documented cases, raise serious concerns about the IDF’s conduct and the lack of accountability for their alleged human rights violations. Despite the evidence and international condemnation, the US has yet to take substantial action against the IDF. The apparent disparity in the response to these violations further underscores the need to address the bias in US foreign policy and the inconsistency in holding violators accountable.
SELECTIVE SANCTIONS AND THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION’S DOUBLE STANDARDS
The Biden administration’s decision to impose sanctions on the RAB while overlooking the IDF’s alleged human rights violations highlights a concerning double standard. The question arises: why are certain countries subjected to scrutiny and sanctions, while others seem to enjoy impunity for similar or even more severe human rights abuses?
THE CASE OF RAB: MINOR VIOLATION COMPARED TO IDF
In the previous year, the United States placed sanctions on Bangladesh’s elite force, the Rapid Action Battalion, citing concerns over human rights violations. While it is important to acknowledge any potential violations and address them accordingly, it is crucial to examine the actions taken by the US in other instances where similar violations have been reported.
WHY THE US BLIND TO THESE VIOLATIONS?
Lobbying and Political Influence
The significant influence of pro-Israel lobbying groups in the United States cannot be ignored. These groups actively advocate for Israel’s interests, thereby shaping the US stance on matters related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Such influence may contribute to the disparity in the US response to human rights violations committed by Israel compared to other nations.
Strategic Importance Plays a Part?
Israel’s strategic importance to the United States, particularly in the Middle East, plays a crucial role in shaping its policies. The US sees Israel as a key ally in the region, and this alliance often overshadows concerns regarding human rights violations, leading to a lack of accountability for the IDF’s actions
The United States has traditionally maintained a strong alliance with Israel, which has influenced its approach to addressing human rights issues in the region. Geopolitical considerations and shared interests often dictate foreign policy decisions, resulting in inconsistent actions when addressing human rights abuses.
The case of the RAB sanctions and the alleged human rights violations committed by the IDF illustrate a disturbing double standard in the US approach to addressing human rights abuses. The apparent bias displayed by the Biden administration raises fundamental questions about the consistency and credibility of US foreign policy. To maintain the integrity of its human rights agenda, the United States must ensure a more balanced and impartial approach, holding all nations accountable for their actions, regardless of their geopolitical importance or alliances. Only then can the US regain its moral authority and effectively address global human rights concerns.