Gaza policy makes US a ‘target’: Former officials

The 12 officials say the cover provided to Israel has ‘ensured’ the US’s ‘complicity’ in the war on Gaza.

US military aid
The US support for Israel's war in Gaza continued to provoke protest [File: David McNew/Getty Images]

A group of former United States government officials have claimed that Washington’s support for Israel’s war in Gaza puts national security at risk.

The 12 officials, who resigned over the last nine months protesting against the US policy, said in a letter released late on Tuesday that President Joe Biden’s support for Israel means that Washington has “undeniable complicity” in the killing and starvation of Palestinians in Gaza. They labelled the White House policy on the war in the enclave “a failure and a threat to US national security”.

While Biden and his administration have made rhetorical efforts urging Israel to show restraint in recent weeks, Washington continues to provide military and diplomatic support to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition government, which includes hardline nationalist parties.

That has seen several officials quit in protest since Netanyahu launched the war on the enclave following Hamas’s attack on southern Israel on October 7.

Maryam Hassanein, who left her post as a special assistant at the Department of the Interior on Tuesday, was the latest to resign. She was one of the signatories, alongside former officials from the Department of State, the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the military, and four political staff members.

“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,” the letter read.

“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,” the former officials warned.

Palestinians, who fled the eastern part of Khan Younis
Palestinians fled the eastern part of Khan Younis after being ordered by the Israeli army to evacuate the southern Gaza city [File: Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

‘Credibility of US values’

The protest letter comes as international protests against Israel’s conduct in Gaza persist, with US military and diplomatic support for its ally also increasingly criticised.

Gaza’s Ministry of Health says nearly 38,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war, with many more feared to be under the rubble as Israeli bombardments flattened once-populated areas of the besieged enclave.

The October attack by Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, killed about 1,200 people. A further 250 or so were abducted and taken to Gaza. It is estimated that some 120 remain captive.

With Israel having blockaded Gaza, the enclave’s 2.4 million people have also been plunged into a deep humanitarian crisis, with food, water, medicine and fuel all in short supply.

Washington has called for more aid to be allowed into Gaza, but Israel continues to impose tight restrictions. The former officials argue in their letter that Israel’s ability to enforce this blockade on Gaza is another failure of US policy.

“Rather than hold the Government of Israel responsible for its role in arbitrarily impeding humanitarian assistance, the US has cut off funding to the single largest provider of humanitarian assistance in Gaza: UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinians,” it read.

“Rather than using our immense leverage to establish guardrails that can guide Israel towards a lasting and just peace, we have facilitated its self-destructive actions that have deepened its political quagmire and contributed to its enduring global isolation.”

The statement added that the US policy regarding the Middle East had also been damaging to the “credibility of US values” as the US condemns Russia’s war on Ukraine while “unconditionally arming and excusing Israel’s”.

The former officials outlined steps for the government to ensure that, including implementing the Leahy Laws that prohibit providing military assistance to forces involved in human rights violations and for the government to ensure the expansion of humanitarian aid to Gaza and the reconstruction of the territory.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies