Over 1,000 USAID officials call for Gaza ceasefire in letter to Biden

This picture taken from the Israeli side of the fence with Gaza on November 10, 2023, shows Israeli bombardment in Gaza. (Photo/AFP)

More than 1,000 officials in the US Agency for International Development [USAID] have signed an open letter urging the Biden administration to call for an immediate ceasefire in Israel's war on Gaza, according to a copy of the letter seen by the Reuters news agency.

The letter is latest sign of unease within the US government over President Joe Biden's unwavering support for Israel in its bombardment and land invasion of the besieged Palestinian enclave.

Washington has rebuffed calls from world leaders and others to call for Israel to halt its assault on Gaza which has killed more than 11,000 Palestinians, including over 4,500 children.

"[We] are alarmed and disheartened at the numerous violations of international law; laws which aim to protect civilians, medical and media personnel, as well as schools, hospitals, and places of worship," the letter reads.

"We believe that further catastrophic loss of human life can only be avoided if the United States Government calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza."

The letter, published on November 2, had now garnered 1,029 signatures from staff of the US aid agency. Signatories' names are hidden but the letter shows it was signed by officials in many of the agency's bureaus in Washington as well as officials posted around the world.

"We appreciate the ongoing dialogue we have with our dedicated staff and partners, and continue to welcome our team to share their opinions with leadership," USAID spokesperson Jessica Jennings said in an emailed response.

Anger within State Dept

It comes amid protests in the United States and elsewhere calling for a ceasefire, and widespread concern among officials over the US response to the Middle East crisis, which has included the public resignation of one State Department official who said he opposed continued lethal assistance to Israel.

More than 500 people who worked on Biden's 2020 election campaign on Thursday published a letter, seen by Reuters, calling for the president to support an immediate ceasefire, and a group of congressional staffers held a vigil on Wednesday at the Capitol demanding a ceasefire, images on social media showed.

A source familiar with the matter said there has been "deep frustration" among officials in the aftermath of October 7 and how the administration has given what the sources see as a "carte-blanche" to Israel, allowing it conduct an invasion in Gaza.

The source said they were aware of at least four cables that have been drafted for the State Department's internal "dissent channel," which allows diplomats to raise concerns about policy anonymously with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

The State Department does not confirm the existence of dissent cables.

The department has held a number of listening sessions in the past month, including in US missions in the Middle East, two sources who attended the sessions said.

Deputy State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said on Thursday it has been important for Blinken and other leaders to "engage directly with the workforce," a reference to listening sessions held with concerned staff.

"We also recognise that this has been a trying time for our workforce," Patel said.


Source: TRT