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US official resigns from USAID over handling of Gaza war

May 30, 2024 at 8:19 pm

Palestinians observe the destruction caused by the attacks of Israeli army on tents of displaced Palestinians living near the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) warehouses in Rafah, Gaza on May 27, 2024 [Ali Jadallah/Anadolu Agency]

Another Biden administration official resigned in protest of Washington’s handling of Israel’s ongoing war on Gaza, according to a report published Thursday, Anadolu Agency reports.

Alexander Smith, a contractor with the US international aid agency, USAID, told the UK-based Guardian newspaper that he was offered an ultimatum after preparing a paper on Palestinian child and maternal mortality: resign, or be dismissed.

The presentation of his paper at a conference was ultimately cancelled by USAID senior leadership, Smith, a former senior adviser on gender, maternal health, child health and nutrition, told the Guardian. He resigned Monday, ending his four-year tenure at the agency.

The letter, addressed to Administrator, Samantha Power, assails what Smith said is USAID’s unequal treatment of different countries and crises, making particular mention of the Agency’s treatment of Palestinians.

“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,” he wrote, according to the Guardian.

READ: Former US military intelligence official says he resigned over Gaza war

USAID has always prided itself on our programs supporting democracy, human rights and rule of law,” Smith wrote in his resignation letter. “In Ukraine, we call for legal redress when people are victimised, and name perpetrators of violence … We boldly state ‘Slava Ukraini’ in peppy promotional videos.”

“When it comes to the Palestinians, however, we avoid saying anything about their right to statehood, the abuses they’re currently suffering, or which powers have been violating their basic rights to freedom, self-determination, livelihoods and clean water,” he added.

Smith’s resignation is the second this week alone after Stacy Gilbert, a senior official from the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, announced her departure. She said it was “wrong” for the Biden administration to have concluded earlier this month that Israel had not obstructed the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza.

The departures raise to at least eight the number of people who have left the federal government in response to US President Joe Biden’s handling of Israel’s war.

Josh Paul, the ex-director of congressional and public affairs at the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, was the first to do so publicly in late October, while the war was still in its first month.

In the time since, vast swathes of Gaza have been razed and tens of thousands of innocent civilians have been killed by the Israeli war.

An official tally from the Gaza-based Health Ministry has counted more than 36,240 deaths, the vast majority being women and children. Over 81,000 others have been injured.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which in its latest ruling has ordered Tel Aviv to immediately halt its invasion of Rafah, where more than 1 million Palestinians had sought refuge from the war before it was invaded on 6May.

Many have been displaced, yet again, as the UN warns that nowhere is safe in the coastal enclave.

Israel has vowed to press on with its invasion, in defiance of the ICJ’s ruling and growing international isolation.​​​​​​​

READ: Jewish staffer resigns from Biden administration amid ongoing US support for Israel’s Gaza offensive