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A State Department official has resigned in protest, saying the Biden White House lied to Congress on a critical report so American weapons could keep flowing to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) for its war in Gaza.    

That official is Stacy Gilbert, a 20-year State Department employee who was a civil military advisor in the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. In February, a national security memo directive tasked the State and Defense departments with writing a report assessing whether Israel was complying with the Geneva Conventions, and whether Israel was thwarting the flow of humanitarian assistance. Working with other experts, Gilbert was tasked with answering the latter question. 

Palestinians at a crowded food station in the southern city of Rafah (Fatima Shbair/AP via New York Times)

That question had enormous implications: The Foreign Assistance Act prohibits aid to countries that thwart the flow of US humanitarian aid. Gilbert says she and other experts formed a clear consensus that Israel had blocked aid “in many ways,” and that they began crafting a report with that conclusion. 

However, with the report still in rough draft form, Gilbert said senior officials shut her and other subject matter experts out of the project, and proceeded to rewrite the report over the ensuing days before it was due to be filed with Congress. 

Gilbert told PBS

“When the report came out on May 10, and I read the conclusion…that Israel was not blocking humanitarian assistance, I decided I would resign, because that was absolutely not the opinion of subject matter experts in the State Department, USAID, the humanitarian community, organizations that are working in Gaza.” 

The estimated Palestinian death toll in Gaza has crossed 36,000. In the wake of the Oct. 7 Hamas invasion of southern Israel, Israeli defense minister Yoav Gallant announced a “complete siege” of the 25-mile long strip. “There will be no electricity, no food, no fuel, everything is closed,” he said. “We are fighting human animals and are acting accordingly.”  Earlier this month, the UN World Food Programme said that northern Gaza is in the midst of a “full-blown famine.” 

Despite receiving tens of billions of dollars in weapons and money for its war, Israel has ignored Washington’s pleas for mercy and thwarted the flow of aid through overland crossings — to the extent that President Biden ordered the construction of a pier off the Gaza coast to do an end-run around the IDF –spending $320 million and critically injuring a service member in the process. Upon completion, the pier promptly fell apart in rough weather and it’s being removed for repair and the price tag gets bigger. 

Israeli citizens have done their own part to thwart the flow of aid: 

In a statement explaining her resignation, Gilbert wrote:

“There is abundant evidence showing Israel is responsible for blocking aid. To deny this is absurd and shameful…Some members of the US government…made a conscious choice to deny the facts on the ground in Gaza in order to continue military support for Israel’s disastrous conduct in this war…

Another State Department official who’d already resigned in protest of the Biden administration’s management of the Israel-Gaza war used Gilbert’s resignation as an opportunity to renew his own condemnation. “On the day when the White House announced that the latest atrocity in Rafah did not cross its red line, this resignation demonstrates that the Biden Administration will do anything to avoid the truth,wrote Josh Paul, formerly of the State Department’s Bureau of Political affairs. 

On March 9, Biden warned Israel against a major attack on the southernmost Gaza city of Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians had fled for safety — explicitly calling it a “red line.” On Sunday, an Israeli strike in Rafah killed at least 45 people, including 12 women and 8 children. Many of the victims were incinerated in tents. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said it was a “tragic mistake.” The White House said the strike didn’t cross a red line and wouldn’t effect US policy.   

Gilbert says her motivation for resigning extends beyond the restriction of humanitarian aid:  

“Israel’s killing of at least 36,000 Palestinians, deliberate destruction of the majority of buildings, and attacks on every major medical facility, schools, and stores, lives and livelihoods, can’t be ignored…I cannot continue working for a government that denies and enables Israel’s deliberate carnage in Gaza.” 

Meanwhile, as the resignations keep piling up, US bombs keep dropping on Palestinian militants and innocents alike… 

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