US officials who have resigned over the war on Gaza

By Kevin Gosztola / The Dissenter

Support from President Joe Biden’s administration for the Israeli government’s war on Gaza has resulted in an unprecedented surge of dissent within United States agencies.

Several officials and military officers have resigned in opposition since the Israeli military launched a massive bombardment after Hamas fighters stormed Israel on October 7, 2023.

During the week of July 4, 2024, 12 individuals who resigned released a unified statement of opposition.

“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 dissenters declared. “This is not only morally reprehensible and in clear violation of international humanitarian law and U.S. laws, but it has also put a target on America’s back.”

While outlining the “current crisis” and what they believe should be done, the dissenters appealed to their former colleagues to “amplify calls for peace” and hold their respective institutions accountable for the violence unfolding in Palestine.

“We recognize the systemic obstacles you face, both as you perform your work, and as you consider leaving it. We particularly embrace those of you representing America’s diversity who feel that your voices have been disempowered, ignored, and tokenized. We are with you, and we know that a better way is possible, but only when we are all brave enough to challenge institutions and outdated forces that attempt to silence us.”

The dissenters further declared, “We encourage you to keep pushing. In our experience, no decision point is too minor to challenge, so while you are in government service, use your voice, write letters to leaders in your agencies, and bring up your disagreements with your team. Speaking out has a snowball effect, inspiring others to use their voice.”

“There is strength in numbers, and we urge you to not be complicit. We encourage you to consult with your Inspectors General, with your legal advisors, with appropriate Members of Congress, and via other protected channels, to question the veracity and/or legality of specific actions or policies. There are resources, and you have advocates, including all of us, who can support you in speaking your truth,” they concluded.

Several of the dissenters are whistleblowers with firsthand knowledge of how Biden administration officials have enabled the Israeli government’s atrocities. All of them are courageous individuals, who have sacrificed their careers for peace, justice, and human rights.

Below is a list of all the people who have resigned from the U.S. government or military during the war on Gaza as of July 5 and in reverse chronological order.

Maryam Hassanein

Resigned on July 2, 2024 | (letter)

Maryam Hassanein was a special assistant in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management in the United States Interior Department. “As a Muslim American,” she stated in her resignation letter that she could not “continue working for an administration that ignores the voices of its diverse staff by continuing to fund and enable Israel’s genocide of Palestinians.”

“After months of Israel’s brutal violence, including the murders of over 37,000 Palestinians and the intentional starvation of millions of Palestinians, the only way I know how to make my voice heard and meaningfully represent my community is to leave,” Hassanein added.

She accused President Biden of “fueling hate crimes against Palestinian Americans by repeating anti-Arab tropes and outright lies.”

Hassanein connected the war on Gaza to her work at the Interior Department, which is an agency that is supposed to “right the wrongs the United States has committed against Indigenous peoples.”

“But we should not wait decades to act in the best interest of Palestinians whose struggles mirror those of Indigenous peoples native to the US. We can and should act now to stop Israel’s genocide in Gaza.”

Larry Hebert Jr.

Publicly seeking conscientious objector status as of June 4, 2024

Larry Hebert Jr. was an airman for the U.S. Air Force for six years before he sought “conscientious objector” status so that he could be honorably or generally discharged. He told NBC News that he worked on a U.S. operation that provided weapons sales to Israel.

He accelerated his efforts to part ways with the military after six year-old Hind Rajab died. An Israeli tank shelled her family’s car and then attacked the ambulance that tried to rescue Rajab.

“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,” Hebert shared.

Hebert was also moved to act by Aaron Bushnell, a fellow airmen who self-immolated in front of the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., on February 25. “It touched me deeply. I knew I had to speak out in opposition to our government sending Israel the bombs and rockets to commit genocide.”

In April, while he was on leave, Hebert stood outside the White House and announced that he was on hunger strike. He confronted General David W. Allvin, the chief of staff for the Air Force, after he testified before Congress. His superiors immediately canceled his leave and ordered him to return to his post in Rota, Spain.

Juan Bettancourt 

Juan Bettancourt sought “separation” from the U.S. military as a conscientious objector on June 5. In a posting from Veterans For Peace, Bettancourt declared, “My vehement stance against war and strong moral objection to the ongoing genocide in Gaza, perpetrated by the Israeli government under the aegis of the United States, have brought me to this critical juncture where I must speak out against these atrocities despite the potential reprisal it may bring.”

“My proudest act of service so far has been championing the Appeal For Redress, a campaign that empowers fellow service members to securely voice their moral outrage about our government’s complicity in Israeli war crimes and genocidal onslaught in Gaza.”

“Military members are frequently used as pawns in the game of American politics, with our beliefs and personal experiences manipulated for agendas that bear little connection to our lived reality,” Bettancourt continued. “Although our rights are limited by our oath, this appeal allows service members to carve out a modicum of agency and break through this pernicious cycle by dispelling any apprehensions that may impede us from denouncing this unspeakable carnage.”

“Our voice is a powerful instrument, and it is our responsibility to humanity and the principles we hold dear to speak up against these heinous acts and make it known to our elected officials that we will not stand by silently while genocide unfolds,” Bettancourt stated. “We refuse to be complicit. Rest in Power Aaron Bushnell!”

Bettancourt expressed horror during an NBC interview in San Antonio, Texas: “I see the slaughter of thousands of innocent civilians,” and “all while the world watches through their smartphones.”

Stacy Gilbert

Resigned on May 28, 2024 

Stacy Gilbert worked for the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration. Although there was no published resignation letter, news reports indicated that Gilbert emailed colleagues to announce that she was “leaving because of an official finding by the department that Israel was not deliberately obstructing the flow of food or other aid into Gaza.”

The finding was part of the NSM-20 report submitted to Congress on May 10, which was supposed to update lawmakers on countries that received arms shipments from the U.S. and their compliance with international humanitarian law.

According to Gilbert, the report was “edited at a higher level” during the final weeks so that it did not reflect the consensus of experts at the State Department. Lead officials at the department did not want it to say that Israel was obstructing food and medical supply deliveries to Gaza.

The State Department knew the Israeli government was blocking aid because, as she described on “PBS News Hour,” there are databases that track “how many trucks are backed up at the border, how many tons of flour have not been allowed in.” Humanitarian aid organizations regularly send reports that detail obstacles that stem from the Israeli government.

Alexander Smith

Resigned on May 27, 2024 | (letter)

Alexander Smith worked for four years at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). He was a senior advisor on gender, maternal health, child health, and nutrition at USAID’s Bureau of Global Health when he resigned.

In his resignation letter to USAID administrator Samantha Power, Smith recounted how he was scheduled to present a session at a USAID conference on May 22, 2024. The session was vetted in February 2024 and was titled, “An Intersectional Gender Lens in Gaza: Ethnicity, Religion, Legal Status, and Maternal/Child Health Outcomes.” It was to focus particular attention on “indigenous women and women from racial and ethnic minorities,” who “often experience higher maternal mortality rates and other negative maternal health outcomes.”

Smith’s presentation dealt with “maternal and child health outcomes in Gaza and the long-term implications of starving and bombarding pregnant women in this and previous conflicts.” But a day before he was scheduled to give his presentation, leadership at USAID apparently told Smith that he was “forbidden” to use the terms “Israel-Gaza border,” “Palestinian state,” and “Palestinians” when referring to Palestinian or Arab citizens of Israel. Leadership also objected to the inclusion of a United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA) map that accurately described the 2022 borders.

Before the day ended, Smith said his entire session was canceled. “I cannot do my job in an. Environment in which specific people cannot be acknowledged as fully human, or where gender and human rights principles apply to some, but not to others, depending on their race.”

“I can no longer in good conscience continue to be silent amidst USAID’s de facto policy of ignoring human suffering when that suffering is perpetrated by an ally,” Smith concluded.

Lily Greenberg Call

Resigned on May 15, 2024 | (letter)

Lily Greenberg Call was the first Jewish American political appointee, who resigned from the Interior Department over President Joe Biden’s support for the Israeli government’s assault on Gaza. She announced her resignation on Nakba Day, “which recognizes the destruction of Palestinian society and homeland in 1948 and the displacement of the majority of the Palestinian people for the formation of today’s modern Israel.”

Throughout Greenberg Call’s resignation letter, she consistently raised her Jewish identity. “My whole life has been spent in [the] Jewish community in the US and Israel,” she recalled. She described learning Hebrew and Arabic in school in the the community. While acknowledging the horror of what occurred with the October 7 attack, she asserted that collectively punishing “millions of Palestinians through displacement, famine, and ethnic cleansing” was not the answer.

“The United States has used nearly no leverage throughout the last eight months to hold Israel accountable; quite the opposite, we have enabled and legitimized Israel’s action with vetoes of UN resolutions designed to hold Israel accountable. President Biden has the blood of innocent people on his hands,” declared Greenberg Call.

Greenberg Call further stated, “I reject the premise that one people’s salvation must come at another’s destruction. I am committed to creating a world where this does not happen—and this cannot be done from within the Biden Administration.”

Hala Rharrit

Resigned in April 2024 | (op-ed)

Hala Rharrit worked for nearly two years as a spokesperson for the State Department’s regional media hub for the Middle East and Africa, which is based in Dubai. She appeared on Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, BBC Arabic, Asharq Al Awsat, and Independent Arabia to discuss numerous global issues. She was a foreign service officer for the State Department for 18 years.

In an opinion article for The Hill, Rharrit shared, “I raised concerns about interviews promoting our Gaza policy and ultimately stood down on media requests. Not because I personally disagreed, but because I was monitoring, documenting and reporting the negative impact our talking points and policy were having on the United States regionally.” She said she was “silenced and sidelined for speaking out.”

“I warned based on analysis of pan-Arab traditional and social media that people throughout the region see through our talking points,” Rharrit recalled. “They hear the double standard that strongly condemns attacks on Israel yet shows concern only when Israel massacres innocent Palestinians. They also know full well that despite mass civilian casualties, the U.S. willfully sends more offensive weapons to the Israeli military.”

“They realize that U.S. airdrops are meant to appease critics rather than actually alleviate mass starvation. And they hear our deafening silence on the killings of Gazan journalists while we preach the importance of press freedom,” according to Rharrit.

Attempting to shift policy from inside the State Department proved futile. “I eventually came to the devastating realization that even our most senior career foreign service officers are merely implementers, not formulators, of our policy—at least in the Middle East,” Rharrit shared.

“Staying on the inside to propagate this policy felt like I was hurting my country more than helping it. I thus made the painful decision to submit my resignation.”

Anna Del Castillo

Resigned in April

Anna Del Castillo was a deputy director at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) before she resigned in April. Huffington Post’s Akbar Shahid Ahmed reported that Del Castillo was the “first known White House official to leave” President Joe Biden’s administration over the war on Gaza.

Annelle Sheline

Resigned in March 28, 2024 (op-ed)

Annelle Sheline worked for a year as a foreign affairs officer for the Office of Near Eastern Affairs in the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. She described when she resigned how she no longer believed that she could effectively promote human rights in her position.

“As a representative of a government that is directly enabling what the International Court of Justice has said could plausibly be a genocide in Gaza, such work has become almost impossible,” Sheline wrote.

My colleagues and I watched in horror as this administration delivered thousands of precision-guided munitions, bombs, small arms and other lethal aid to Israel and authorized thousands more, even bypassing Congress to do so. We are appalled by the administration’s flagrant disregard for American laws that prohibit the US from providing assistance to foreign militaries that engage in gross human rights violations or that restrict the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Sheline mentioned that her office was supposed to support journalists in the Middle East. Nongovernmental organizations, or NGOs, were brushed off when they requested a response to detained or killed journalists in Gaza. She found that members of civil society increasingly ignored her messages.

According to Sheline, State Department colleagues encouraged her to publicly resign, and she was haunted by the message posted by Aaron Bushnell, a 25-year-old US Air Force member who self-immolated in front of the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C. on February 25. “Many of us like to ask ourselves, ‘What would I do if I was alive during slavery? Or the Jim Crow South? Or apartheid? What would I do if my country was committing genocide?’ The answer is, you’re doing it. Right now.”

“I can no longer continue what I was doing,” Sheline stated. “I hope that my resignation can contribute to the many efforts to push the administration to withdraw support for Israel’s war, for the sake of the 2 million Palestinians whose lives are at risk and for the sake of America’s moral standing in the world.”

Tariq Habash

Resigned on January 3, 2024 | (letter)

Tariq Habash, a Palestinian American, was the first political appointee in President Joe Biden’s administration to resign. He worked as a policy advisor in the Department of Education’s Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development.

“I cannot stay silent as this administration turns a blind eye to the atrocities committed against innocent Palestinian lives, in what leading human rights experts have called a genocidal campaign by the Israeli government,” Habash declared in his letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. “I cannot be quietly complicit as this administration fails to leverage its influence as Israel’s strongest ally to halt the abusive and ongoing collective punishment tactics that have cut off Palestinian in Gaza from food, water, electricity, fuel, and medical supplies, leading to widespread disease and starvation.”

While Habash did not have any involvement with U.S. operations or programs to support the Israeli government, he protested the impact that the violence had on American colleges and universities. “Jewish, Muslim, and Arab students on college campuses have expressed feeling less safe, and we have seen alarming violence across the United States against Palestinian and Muslim Americans who have been shot, stabbed, and even hit by cars.”

The Department of Education, according to Habash, had failed to protect all students who exercise their First Amendment rights to engage in nonviolent protests, including in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

Harrison Mann

Submitted resignation on November 1 | (letter)

Harrison Mann was an executive officer in the Middle East/Africa Center of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) for more than two and a half years. He previously worked in the center as an all-source intelligence analyst, and Mann was an officer in the U.S. Army for 13 years.

He resigned because he could no longer contribute, even if it was marginal, to the “killing and starvation of tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians.” He was unable to ignore the connection between “horrific and heartbreaking images” and his duties at DIA.

“This caused me incredible shame and guilt. Most of you know I already intended to leave the Army at some point, but this moral injury is what led me to finally submit my resignation on November 1.”

“At some point—whatever the justification—you’re either advancing a policy that enables the mass starvation of children, or you’re not,” Mann concluded.

Riley Livermore

Submitted resignation in late October 2024

Riley Livermore joined the U.S. Air Force in 2012, according to Intercept reporter Prem Thakker. For two years, he worked in Israel as a “flight test engineer” on “missile guidance research.”

Shortly after the Israeli military launched its assault following the Hamas attack on October 7, Livermore decided that he could no longer be a part of the Defense Department. “I don’t want to be working on something that can turn around and be used to slaughter innocent people.”

In particular, Livermore told Thakker that he was frightened by “Israel’s use of targeting systems like Gospel and Lavender—artificial intelligence systems that have mechanized Israel’s war on Gaza, with little oversight.”

Mohammed Abu Hashem

Submitted his resignation on October 21; made public in June 2024

First Sergeant Mohammed Abu Hashem, a Palestinian American who was in the United States Force for 22 years, resigned after an Israeli attack killed his aunt and more than 20 neighbors. As of July 1, five more relatives have been killed in the war on Gaza.

Abu Hashem is the first person to resign, who has had family killed. His aunt’s death made him think of all the U.S. arms shipments to Israel. “It was extremely emotional for me, knowing the amount of bombs that are being supplied to Israel was the cause of her death,” Abu Hashem told the Washington Post. He could no longer be “a part of the system that enabled this.”

After the Israeli military killed his aunt, Abu Hashem confronted his superior officers in the Air Force. He contended the use of U.S.-supplied weapons was “potentially” a human rights violation. Their “unsatisfying” response further convinced him to resign.

“I can’t serve an administration that disregards facts, and denies U.S. and international law to defend and enable such horrific violence,” Abu Hashem declared.

Josh Paul 

Resigned on October 18, 2023 | (letter)

Josh Paul was the director of congressional and public affairs for State Department’s Bureau of Political Military Affairs for more than 11 years. He oversaw U.S. arms transfers to Israel and other countries, and in particular, the process of notifying Congress.

Upon resigning, Paul alerted the public to the fact that shipments of U.S. military weapons and equipment were not going through standard human rights vetting, like tens of thousands of arms sales do each year. He further claimed that the “space for debate” and the “ability to mitigate some of the worst possible outcomes” of arms sales had disappeared.

Paul objected to a proposal that would remove a requirement to alert the U.S. Congress to arms sales to Israel. “It is unprecedented. I have never seen anything like it,” Paul added in a November 3, 2023, interview on “Democracy Now!”

A key catalyst for Paul’s resignation was his opposition to U.S. arms being used to massacre Palestinian civilians and his belief that there is no military solution.

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