12 US officials resign in protest at Biden’s Gaza policy

Twelve American government officials have resigned in protest at President Joe Biden’s Gaza policy, accusing Washington of complicity in the killing and starvation of Palestinians as Israel’s war on the besieged strip approaches it ninth month.

“America’s diplomatic cover for, and continuous flow of arms to, Israel has ensured our undeniable complicity in the killings and forced starvation of a besieged Palestinian population in Gaza,” they announced in a joint statement released Tuesday.

“This is not only morally reprehensible and in clear violation of international humanitarian law and US laws, but it has also put a target on America’s back,” they added.

The statement, signed by four former officials from the State Department, one from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), three from the US military and four political staff, addresses the Biden administration with policy proposals regarding Israel’s war on Gaza.

The signatories are former State Department officials Josh Paul, Annelle Sheline, Stacy Gilbert and Hala Rharrit, former policy advisor and political appointee at the US Department of Education Tariq Habash, former officials from the US Department of the Air Force Mohammed Abu Hashem and Riley Livermore, Deputy Director at the White House’s Office of Management and Budget Anna Del Castillo, former political appointee at the US Department of Interior Lily Greenberg Call, former special assistant at the US Department of the Interior Maryam Hassanein, former army officer from the Defense Intelligence Agency Harrison Mann, and former senior advisor at USAID Alexander Smith.

“This intransigent policy risks US national security and the lives of our service members and diplomats as has already been made evident with the killing of three US service members in Jordan in January and the evacuations of diplomatic facilities in the Middle East, and also poses a security risk for American citizens at home and abroad,” they said.

Accusing the administration’s policy of threatening US interests throughout the region, they stated that US credibility has been “deeply undermined worldwide at a time we need it most, when the world is characterized by a new era of strategic competition”.

According to the former US officials, who described the current Gaza policy as “failed”, the policy has not made Israelis “any safer” and has “emboldened extremists” while being devastating for the Palestinian people.

“As a group of dedicated Americans in service of our country, we insist that there is another way,” the statement noted, outlining steps to ensure that a “catastrophic policy failure like this can never happen again”.

It also urges the US government to ensure expansion of humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza and the reconstruction of the territory as well as supporting self-determination for the Palestinian people.

“There is an urgent need for change in the organizational cultures and structures that have enabled the current US approach.”

“This includes the strengthening of oversight and accountability mechanisms within the Executive Branch, greater transparency regarding arms transfers and legal deliberations, an end to the silencing and sidelining of critical voices, and statutory change via the legislative process,” the statement read.

Calling on their former colleagues, they stressed, “We urge you to not be complicit.”

The unprecedented wave of resignations since the outbreak of the war on Oct. 7 last year has yet to lead to a significant shift in the US policy on Gaza as the flow of American-made arms to Israel continues despite massive civilian deaths, the risk of regional escalation and damage to America’s global standing.

President Biden has defended his support for Israel, but has criticized the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for carrying out a punishing campaign in Gaza to rout Hamas.

Critics of Biden’s policy toward Israel have called for the president to halt US weapons supplies as leverage against Israel to stop its military operations.

Israel, flouting a United Nations Security Council resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire, has faced international condemnation amid its continued brutal offensive on Gaza since an Oct. 7, 2023 attack by the Palestinian group Hamas.

At least 37,900 Palestinians have since been killed, mostly women and children, and over 87,000 others injured, according to local health authorities.

Over eight months into the Israeli war, vast tracts of Gaza lie in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine.

Human rights organizations have warned that thousands of people in the besieged enclave are facing the risk of famine amid ongoing Israeli devastating onslaught.

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