U.S. State Department responds to faith groups’ call to probe Israeli human rights abuses

U.S. State Department responds to faith groups’ call to probe Israeli human rights abuses

WASHINGTON DC April 27, 2016 – On Monday the US Department of State responded to a letter regarding cases of apparent extrajudicial killings by Israeli forces sent in February by twelve churches and faith-based organizations.

In the February letter to Tom Malinowski, Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, and Ambassador Anne W. Patterson, Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, the organizations asked the State Department to investigate several cases and determine whether they constitute violations of the Leahy Law. “If a Leahy Law violation occurred, then the units responsible should be ineligible to receive future U.S. security assistance as stipulated by the law,” the letter concluded.

In its response, the Department of State confirmed that “In Israel and the Palestinian Territories, the Department has noted several of the allegations referred to in the material you provided, including the cases of Fadi Alloun, Saad Al-Atrash, and Hadeel Hashlamoun.” The Department of State also reassured the churches and faith-based groups that “We continue to emphasize that host governments should investigate credible allegations in a timely and transparent manner.”

Today, Dr. Peter E. Makari, Executive for the Middle East and Europe, Global Ministries of the United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), said, “We are encouraged to receive this response from the Department of State, and we look forward to continuing our conversation with them. At the same time, we urge the Department of State to prevent any further assistance to Israeli units implicated in gross violations of human rights, as they have suggested, and to make this information publicly available as provided for in the Leahy Law.”

The organizations submitting the cases and seeking investigations were the American Friends Service Committee; Church of the Brethren, Office of Public Witness; Conference of Major Superiors of Men; Friends Committee on National Legislation; Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ; Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns; Mennonite Central Committee U.S.; Pax Christi International; Pax Christi USA; Presbyterian Church (USA); United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries; and United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society.

Rev. Susan P. Wilder
Faith Forum on Middle East Policy
(703) 598-2503

Here is the State Department’s response: