Israeli PM Netanyahu says he will fight any sanctions on army battalions

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday he would fight against sanctions being imposed on any Israeli military units for alleged rights violations, after media reports said Washington was planning such a step.

Axios news site on Saturday reported that Washington was planning to impose sanctions on Israel's Netzah Yehuda battalion, which has operated in the occupied West Bank, though the Israeli military said it was not aware of any such measures.

On Friday, the United States announced a series of sanctions linked to Israeli settlers in the West Bank, in the latest sign of growing US frustration with the policies of Netanyahu, whose coalition government relies on settler parties.

"If anyone thinks they can impose sanctions on a unit of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) - I will fight it with all my strength," Netanyahu said in a statement.

Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz, a centrist former armed forces chief, said in a statement on Sunday that he spoke with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and asked him to reconsider the matter.

The State Department said Blinken spoke with Gantz and Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant about Israel's security, efforts to ensure the conflict in Gaza does not spread and the need for an immediate ceasefire and increased flow of humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza. The US statements did not mention sanctions.

Gantz said any such sanctions would be a mistake because they would harm Israel's legitimacy during a time of war and that they were unjustified because Israel has an independent justice system and a military that keeps international law.

Blinken on Friday said he had made "determinations" regarding accusations that Israel violated a set of US laws that prohibit providing military assistance to individuals or security force units that commit gross violations of human rights.

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