Atrocities in Gaza trigger more resignations in Biden administration

Published June 24, 2024
People inspect the damage next to a building destroyed during Israeli bombardment at al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City on June 22, 2024. — AFP
People inspect the damage next to a building destroyed during Israeli bombardment at al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City on June 22, 2024. — AFP

WASHINGTON: Three more US officials, including two from the military, have resigned this week in protest against Washington’s support for Israeli military operations in Gaza, US media reported on Sunday.

Larry Hebert and Juan Bettancourt announced their unwillingness to continue serving in light of the US military’s role in the conflict.

The development follows the resignation of Andrew Miller, a senior official at the US Department of State and an expert on Israeli-Palestinian affairs. Miller expressed his discontent with the Biden administration’s policies amid the eight-month-long conflict in Gaza.

The death of six-year-old Hind Rajab in February, after she was trapped under Israeli fire in Gaza, prompted Larry Hebert Jr., an active-duty US airman, to seek conscientious objector status from the US military.

Some officials say Israeli actions in enclave amount to ‘genocide’

“She looks almost just like my daughter, and that was something that was extremely hard to grasp, is that all these children that have aspirations and dreams and lives that many of us are living and want, and it’s wholly unjustified to support what’s happening,” said Hebert. He revealed in an interview with NBC News that he worked directly on a US operation to provide weapons sales to Israel.

Similarly, after witnessing footage of the death and destruction in Gaza, senior US Airman Juan Bettancourt stated he could no longer ignore the US government’s role in the conflict, including its supply of weapons, diplomatic support, and intelligence.

“I see the slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians, all while the world watches through their smartphones,” Bettancourt told NBC News.

Both Hebert and Bettancourt said the scale of atrocities pushed them to question their participation in a military system that they believed was perpetuating the heavy death toll. They referred to Israel’s attack on Gaza as “genocide” and noted that the footage coming out of the region was weighing heavily not only on them but on many Americans.

The number of US officials resigning has now reached approximately a dozen. Among them are Josh Paul, Harrison Mann, Tariq Habash, Annelle Sheline, Hala Rharrit, Lily Greenberg, Alex Smith, and Stacy Gilbert. Their disagreement with the US policy highlights the growing dissent within the ranks of the government.

The issue gained global attention in February when Aaron Bushnell, a member of the US Air Force, set himself on fire in a dramatic protest against the administration’s support for Israel. Bushnell later succumbed to injuries in the hospital.

As the conflict in Gaza continues, the internal opposition within the US government underscores the increasing controversy and division over America’s foreign policy in the region.

Miller was sceptic of President Joe Biden’s “bear hug” approach towards Israel’s government, The Washington Post reported. He played a key role in the executive order issued in February, which imposed sanctions on several Israeli settlers for attacking Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank, according to CNN.

Previously, he served as a senior policy adviser to the US ambassador to the United Nations and as the director for Egypt and Israel military issues on the White House National Security Council during the Obama administration.

In May, Major Harrison Mann announced that he had resigned from the US Defence Intelligence Agency because of his country’s “unqualified support” for Israel’s aggression in Gaza. He quit in November.

In February, Airman Bushnell set himself on fire in protest outside Israel’s embassy in Washington and later died from his injuries.

The Biden administration has yet to respond to these recent resignations and the broader criticism of its support for Israeli military actions.

Published in Dawn, June 24th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Misery and despair
Updated 12 Jul, 2024

Misery and despair

Is a life lived happily and respectably too much to ask for from your country?
Temporary extension
12 Jul, 2024

Temporary extension

THE cabinet’s decision to allow ‘legal’ Afghan refugees — meaning those with Proof of Registration cards —...
Anti-smog strategy
12 Jul, 2024

Anti-smog strategy

BY acknowledging that smog is a year-round problem, and not just a winter issue, the Punjab government has taken the...
Population crisis
Updated 11 Jul, 2024

Population crisis

Moreover, successful programmes, such as Lady Health Workers, can be utilised to provide information and reproductive health services to women.
Taxing agriculture
11 Jul, 2024

Taxing agriculture

OUR inability to collect sufficient tax revenue is resulting in persistently high fiscal deficits, forcing ...
Negligence at PHOTA
11 Jul, 2024

Negligence at PHOTA

THE impression that the state is being careless towards aspects of organ trade control is damaging. Recent news ...