The Biden administration is facing growing internal dissent over its response to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in Gaza. Two officials have resigned in protest this week, criticizing the administration’s refusal to more forcefully condemn Israel’s military actions in Gaza.
Senior Education Official Resigns Over “Unjustifiable Israeli Assault”
On Wednesday, Tariq Habash, a senior policy advisor at the Department of Education, stepped down from his position due to the Biden administration’s “apparent lack of concern” for Palestinian casualties in Gaza.
In his resignation letter, Habash wrote: “I cannot be quietly complicit as 2 million Palestinians in Gaza are under siege by an unjustifiable Israeli assault.” He slammed the administration for turning a “blind eye to the human rights and humanitarian calamity that has befallen the Palestinian people.”
Habash was appointed to the Department of Education last January and was tasked with helping schools recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. His resignation marks the second departure this week of an administration official over Israel-Palestine policy.
On Tuesday, an unnamed foreign service officer at the State Department also resigned, writing in a letter that they could not continue efforts to fund the current government in Israel.
“I am forced to resign in protest of this administration’s craven support for the Netanyahu regime’s aggression in Gaza and ethnically cleansing Palestinians in East Jerusalem,” the official wrote.
Biden Campaign Staffers Protest “Complicity” in Gaza Deaths
In addition to the resignations, a group of over 90 Biden campaign volunteers and staffers signed an anonymous open letter condemning the administration’s “refusal to denounce crimes against humanity” by the Israeli government.
The letter accused President Biden of breaching commitments made on the campaign trail to support human rights and self-determination for Palestinians. It also slammed Biden for enabling Prime Minister Netanyahu’s “agenda of occupation and apartheid.”
“As campaign staff, we helped communicate to voters that you were committed to pursuing peace and justice as president. Today, your unwillingness to protect Palestinian lives and human rights contradicts everything our campaign stood for,” the letter stated.
According to the Washington Post, signatories of the letter include both former Biden campaign volunteers and ex-staffers who worked on communications, data analytics, and policy issues.
The White House has not officially responded to the dissent coming from current and former Biden staffers over Gaza. Some Democrats have criticized the letters as inappropriate given the complexities of the crisis.
“While well-intentioned, policy disagreements with the President should be expressed through proper channels, not anonymous letters,” said House Democrat Josh Gottheimer.
Israel Launches Fresh Airstrikes As Ceasefire Hopes Dim
The internal protests come as Israel continues to bombard Gaza with airstrikes in an escalating 10-day conflict that has killed at least 230 Palestinians, including 65 children. Hamas and other militant groups have fired over 4,000 rockets into Israel, killing 12 people.
On Thursday, Israel unleashed a new wave of airstrikes in Gaza while Hamas launched fresh rocket barrages at Israeli cities. An Israeli missile strike destroyed a 12-story tower housing Qatar-based Al Jazeera and AP media offices.
Israel claims the buildings also contained Hamas military intelligence assets, but has provided no evidence.
“The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today,” AP President and CEO Gary Pruitt said in a statement.
The Israeli assault drew condemnation from press freedom groups and increased international calls for both sides to reach a cease-fire agreement. However, negotiators have made little progress so far as unrest persists in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.
Israeli leaders have downplayed ceasefire efforts, signaling plans to continue air raids aimed at Hamas. Prime Minister Netanyahu vowed there would be “no let-up” as Hamas would “pay a very heavy price” for rocket fire.
President Biden has publicly defended Israel’s “right to defend itself” from Hamas attacks while privately pressing Netanyahu to wind down fighting. According to Axios, Biden told the Israeli leader that he could not deter growing calls for a cease-fire amid the devastating Gaza airstrikes.
With over 50,000 Palestinians displaced and Gaza infrastructure in ruins, the UN warns the enclave could run out of fuel for electricity generators within 2-3 days if hostilities continue.
As the crisis enters its second week, the violence threatens to spill over into the occupied West Bank and spark wider conflict. The coming days could prove critical in determining whether a ceasefire deal can be reached or if the devastating violence will take an even deadlier turn.
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