US announces further sanctions targeting extremist settlers and West Bank outposts

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Israelis demonstrate at a protest action at Kerem Shalom border crossing on January 24, 2024. (Courtesy: Reut Ben Haim)
Israelis demonstrate at a protest action at Kerem Shalom border crossing on January 24, 2024. (Courtesy: Reut Ben Haim)

The Biden administration issues its fifth batch of sanctions against Israeli extremists and illegal outposts, targeting three individuals and five entities, including the anti-miscegenation Lehava group led by already-designated extremist Benzi Gopstein, an ally of National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir.

The sanctions largely take aim at individuals and entities linked to those already sanctioned in the previous four rounds.

These include the co-heads of the already-designated Tzav 9 group, Reut Ben Haim and Aviad Shlomo Sarid. Their far-right group has led attacks on humanitarian aid convoys en route to Gaza in Israel and the West Bank. Ben Haim becomes the first women targeted using the executive order US President Joe Biden signed in February after three years of urging Israel to crack down on settler violence.

Treasury Department sanctions were also imposed on four West Bank outposts owned or controlled by other already-designated extremists “who have weaponized them as bases for violent actions to displace Palestinians,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller says in a statement.

The targeted outposts are Meitarim Farm run by already-sanctioned Yinon Levi; HaMahoch Farm and Neria’s Farm run by the already sanctioned Neri Ben Pazi; and Manne’s Farm, run by Issachar Manne, who is among the three individuals sanctioned in the latest batch.

The largest-yet batch of sanctions is the latest escalation in the administration’s effort to hold Israeli accountable for settler violence, which goes almost entirely unchecked. The outgoing head of IDF Cental Command called out settler leaders for failing to root out extremist residents who have been behind regular attacks against Palestinians, Israeli security forces and left-wing Israeli activists in the West Bank.

The Treasury Department has simultaneously issued a public advisory to financial institutions to help them better identify individuals and entities targeted under the executive order on settler violence in addition to those trying to transfer money to sanctioned parties.

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