U.S. Officials Keep Resigning Over the Ongoing Genocide in Gaza

At least five state officials have left the State Department since October. I wonder why...

U.S. Officials Keep Resigning Over the Ongoing Genocide in Gaza

This week, two more officials, Stacy Gilbert, a former senior civil military adviser at the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, and Alexander Smith, a former contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), left their positions because of how President Biden has handled the genocide in Gaza.

In an interview with HuffPost, Gilbert said she had no choice but to quit the agency as the Biden administration is  “twisting the facts” to make a “patently, demonstrably, quantifiably false” claim that Israel is not blocking humanitarian aid for Gaza, as a means to justify the U.S.’s continued military support.

Gilbert, who has over two decades of experience in U.S. policy around global crises and conflicts, said she told her colleagues she was resigning on May 10, right after the Biden administration released a report on Israeli conduct, which she’d contributed to. In that assessment, President Biden promised a probe of Israeli compliance with American and international law, though Gilbert said she was unconvinced: “It just doesn’t matter…We could have AI write the report because it is not informed by reality or context or the informed opinions of subject matter experts.”

In April, reports that several staffers at several State Department offices and the U.S. Agency for International Development determined that the Israeli operation had broken humanitarian law. Over the weekend, at least 45 people were killed and more than 200 others were injured when a fire broke out at a refugee camp in Rafah—which was meant to be a safe zone—due to an Israeli airstrike. Despite this, White House spokesperson John F. Kirby denounced the loss of innocent life but said the attack didn’t cross Biden’s red line, meaning the U.S. will continue sending weapons to Israel.

“We have not seen them go in with large units, large numbers of troops, in columns and formations in some sort of co-ordinated maneuver against multiple targets on the ground,” Kirby said.

“I understand that schools and hospitals can be legitimate military targets in the right circumstances, that war is messy,” Gilbert told HuffPost. “But there are rules. Sometimes a hospital can be a legitimate military target if combatants are using that hospital as a base from which to launch attacks…but I think because I try very hard to understand what international humanitarian law is about, it also gives me credibility in saying what is happening in Gaza is not according to international humanitarian law.”

According to multiple outlets, Gilbert is at least the fifth official to leave the State Department over Biden’s response to the ongoing genocide in Gaza in less than a year. Josh Paul, another longtime official, resigned in October. Human rights official Annelle Sheline left in March and Hala Rharrit, a career diplomat, quit in April. All three have been vocal that the Biden administration’s position on Israel is morally bankrupt.

Meanwhile Smith, in an interview with the Guardian, said he was offered the choice between resignation and dismissal after preparing a presentation on maternal and child mortality among Palestinians. That presentation, he said, would ultimately be canceled “last minute.”

“I cannot do my job in an environment in which specific people cannot be acknowledged as fully human, or where gender and human rights principles apply to some, but not to others, depending on their race,” the state department contractor said. “Even if you’re responding to an attack, or under any circumstances, it is never legal to starve a civilian population.”

Paul told the Guardian that these won’t be the only resignations. “I’m aware that there are other resignations pending in the near future from officials with similar concerns in their own areas of work,” he said.

On Friday, Biden held a press conference at the White House, telling reporters that Israel has proposed a new, three-phase ceasefire deal to Hamas. The first stage of the agreement would be a six-week ceasefire in which both parties would negotiate a supposedly permanent end to the violence, followed by Hamas’ return of the Israeli hostages and Israel’s military withdrawal from Gaza, and, finally, “major” reconstruction of the damage to civilian areas in Gaza.

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