Members of Congress Call on US State Department to Probe Possible Violations of Leahy Law by Israel and Egypt

leahyEleven members of Congress recently sent a letter to the State Department that expresses concern over the lack of monitoring of US military assistance given to Israel and Egypt. The letter asks for an investigation into possible gross violations of human rights by the police and armed forces of those countries.

In particular, the letter, which was signed by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and ten members of the House of Representatives led by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), calls for an investigation of extrajudicial killings, torture, and forced disappearances documented by human rights organizations that may have involved recipients, or potential recipients, of U.S. military assistance. Just last week, an Israeli soldier was caught on video summarily executing a wounded Palestinian man in Hebron in the occupied West Bank, the latest in a series of such incidents over the past several months, including the killing of 17-year-old Palestinian-American Mahmoud Shaalan this past February.

Suzanne Adely, National Lawyers Guild International Committee Co-Chair, says “The Leahy Law provides us with a legal and moral framework so that U.S. taxpayer money is not used to support state sponsored gross human rights violations. The 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza and the 2013 Rabaa Massacre have represented turning points, as more voices among mainstream media, government officials and ordinary U.S. citizens say enough.”

Download the letter: Congressional Letter to State Department Re: Israel and Egypt Inquiry

Letter text follows:

February 17, 2016

The Honorable John F. Kerry
Department of State
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Secretary Kerry:

We commend you for your extraordinary efforts to try to bring peace and stability to the Middle East. We write today to request information regarding the application of the Leahy Law in Israel and Egypt. We are also inquiring about specific allegations of gross violations of human rights by the security forces of both countries.

According to 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. Please update us on what mechanisms are in place to monitor the use of such assistance by Israel and Egypt.

Additionally, while the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) is responsible for vetting cases, the Department’s regional bureaus and our embassies have a responsibility to help document and determine the credibility of information related to allegations of gross violations of human rights by foreign security forces. Please provide a description of the procedures used by the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs and our embassies in Israel and Egypt to investigate such allegations in order to enhance the quality of information being maintained and evaluated by DRL and made available to you.

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. We urge you to determine if these reports are credible and to inform us of your findings:

-Israel: 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.

-Egypt: 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.

In light of these reports we request that you act promptly to determine their credibility and whether they trigger the Leahy Law and, if so, take appropriate action called for under the law.

Thank you for your consideration.


Senator Patrick Leahy
United States Senator

Henry C. “Hank” Johnson
Member of Congress

Raul M. Grijalva
Member of Congress

Eleanor Holmes Norton
Member of Congress

Andre Carson
Member of Congress

Sam Farr
Member of Congress

Betty McCollum
Member of Congress

Chellie Pingree
Member of Congress

Jim McDermott
Member of Congress

Eddie Bernice Johnson
Member of Congress

James P. McGovern
Member of Congress



PHOTO CREDIT: Ralph Alswang

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