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Members Of Congress Call For Investigations Of Human Rights Violations By Israel And Egypt

Senator Leahy (D-VT) asked Secretary of State John Kerry for information concerning Israel and Egypt's human rights record.

CREDIT: Flickr user Center for American Progress.

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), along with 10 House Democrats, recently signed a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, calling for a State Department investigation of human rights violations made by Israeli and Egyptian security forces.

If the investigations move forward, military aid to Israel and Egypt, the United States’ two largest recipients, could be cut off.

In the letter, Leahy highlighted the United States’ unique relationship with Israel and Egypt.

“According to the information we have received, the manner in which U.S. military assistance has been provided to Israel and Egypt, since the Camp David Accords, including the delivery of assistance at the military service level, has created a unique situation that has hindered implementation of normal mechanisms for monitoring the use of such assistance,” Leahy wrote. “Please update us on what mechanisms are in place to monitor the use of such assistance by Israel and Egypt.”

Leahy also brought up the Leahy Law, which states: “No assistance shall be furnished…to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.”

Leahy specifically mentioned violations brought up by human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

“There have been a disturbing number of reports of possible gross violations of human rights by security forces in Israel and Egypt–incidents that may have involved recipients or potential recipients of U.S. military assistance,” Leahy wrote. “We urge you to determine if these reports are credible and to inform us of your findings. Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have reported what may be extrajudicial killings by the Israeli military and police of Fadi Alloun, Saad Al-Atrash, Hadeel Hashlamoun, and Mutaz Ewisa. There are also reports of the use of torture in the cases of Wasim Marouf and Ahmed Manasra.

“Human Rights Watch has described the August 2013 massacre in Rab’aa Square as ‘the world’s largest killings of demonstrators in a single day in recent history.’ Recent reports document what may be extrajudicial killings by Egyptian security forces of Sayed Dwedar, Nasser al-Hafi, Osama al-Husseini, Hisham Khifagy, Gamal Khalifa, Abd al-Fattah Ibrahim al-Sisi, Taher Abdullah, Muatasam al-Agizi and Hisham al-Dessouky. There have also been a number of reported cases of forced disappearance, including Asma’a Khalaf, Islam Atito, Sabry al-Ghoul, Esraa al-Taweel, Omar Ali and Souhaib Sa’ad and Al-Sayed al-Rassed.”

Millennials are interested in a variety of social causes, ranking poverty and hunger (16 percent), the environment (15 percent), human rights (11 percent) and education (10 percent) about equally important, according to a report by Cone Communications.

Alexandra Kilpatrick is a reporter with Generation Progress.

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