July 13, 2024

Gaza policy has put US at risk-Ex-officials

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Twelve former Biden administration officials who resigned over policy on Israel and the Gaza war say the government’s actions have endangered US national security.

The policies have further destabilized the region and “put a target on America’s back”, they say in a joint statement.

One of the 12 resigned only on Tuesday from the US Department of the Interior.

The US Department of State has previously denied such claims, pointing to its criticism of civilian casualties in Gaza and its efforts to boost humanitarian aid.

The joint statement by the former officials says: “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.”

This is not the first such statement from former officials but it comes alongside the latest resignation from the administration of Maryam Hassanein, a special assistant at the US Department of Interior. She also signed the statement.

The former officials accuse the US government of clinging to a “failed policy” that has not only been devastating for the Palestinian people but has endangered Israelis, stifled free speech and undermined US credibility over its commitment to a rules-based international order.

The joint statement says ongoing weapons transfers to Israel despite its actions in Gaza have further destabilized the Middle East and “put a target on America’s back”.

“Our nation’s political and economic interests across the region have also been significantly harmed, while 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,” the statement says.

Among the other signatories is Josh Paul, who oversaw Congressional relations on weapons transfers. He quit in October.

A former White House official, two former Air Force Department personnel and a former army officer in the Defence Intelligence Agency also signed the statement.

The state department has been approached for comment. It has previously said it encouraged different views on policy and staff could make them known through “appropriate channels”.

The US had “been clear at the highest levels publicly and privately with Israel that it must abide by international humanitarian law”, a State Department spokesperson said in April.

The spokesperson’s comments came shortly after seven current and former US officials told the BBC that President Biden’s pressure on Israel after a deadly attack on aid workers did not go far enough and would fail to stem the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

The Israeli military launched a campaign to destroy the Hamas group which runs Gaza in response to an unprecedented attack on southern Israel on 7 October 2023, during which about 1,200 people were killed and 251 others taken hostage.

More than 37,900 people have been killed in Gaza since then, according to the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry.

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