The anger of US officials over Biden's Gaza policy means that the public mood in the State Department is now worse than it was during the Iraq War

The mood among State Department staff is worse than it was during the disastrous US invasion of Iraq, according to a former employee, as fallout from the killing of seven international aid workers by Israel continues.

“I have never seen so much dissent,” said Charles Blaha, former director of the State Department's Bureau of Security and Human Rights. The IndependentAmid growing concern about President Joe Biden's policy on Gaza.

“I worked at the State Department for 32 years, including during the Iraq War, and I have never seen so much unhappiness,” said Mr. Blaha, who maintains contact with current staff. “So, yes, people “We are worried.”

Biden is under increasing pressure over his long and unconditional support for Israel after nearly six months of devastating war in Gaza, which has claimed the lives of more than 33,000 Palestinians.

The killing of seven international aid workers, including a US citizen, in three precise Israeli air strikes sparked uproar around the world and once again highlighted Biden's insistence on continuing arms deliveries. Their deaths bring the number of aid workers killed in the conflict to more than 220 people, according to the United Nations.

On the same day of the fatal strike, the Biden administration approved the transfer Thousands of bombs for IsraelIt is currently weighing an $18bn (£14.2bn) sale that includes fighter jets and other equipment.

“There is a real disconnect between the policy analyzes and recommendations of State Department staff regarding Gaza, Israel and Palestine more generally and the decisions that the White House ultimately makes.”

Brian Finucane, former legal adviser at the Foreign Office

Despite internal opposition in the State Department, only two public war-related resignations occurred. One of those two, Josh Paul, said The Independent An increasing number of people are expressing their concerns privately.

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“I've certainly heard from a lot of people at the department in recent weeks, at an increasing clip, and they are deeply disturbed, and I can tell they're horrified, by the way the department is operating and moving forward with arms transfers in the context of what we're seeing in Gaza.”

“My impression is that there are a number of people who are trying to push things in a better direction. There are also probably more people who are just saying: 'I'm not going to touch these things,'” he added.

Paul said he is aware of at least seven internal opposition memos regarding the Biden administration's policy in Gaza.

The Dissent Memoirs Channel was created during the Vietnam War for State Department employees to express criticism and disagreements without fear of retaliation.

A State Department spokesperson said Blinken “welcomes people who use the opposition channel.”

“He takes it very seriously, and it makes him think about his thinking in terms of policy making and what he proposes to the president,” the spokesman added.

Brian Finucane, who worked for a decade in the State Department's Office of Legal Counsel advising on issues relating to the laws of war, arms transfers and war crimes, said: The Independent That there is a big gap between the ministry's employees and the messages coming from the White House.

Josh Paul, who resigned over the war between Israel and Hamas, speaks during a ceasefire demonstration in front of the White House in December (France Press agency)

He said: “Based on my conversations since October with people at the Department, there is a real disconnect between the analysis and policy recommendations of State Department staff regarding Gaza, Israel and Palestine in general and the decisions that the White House ultimately makes.”

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Finucane added: “The president is the ultimate decision-maker, and with regard to Gaza, he is largely immune to the realities of this catastrophic conflict, at least in terms of actual US policy rather than rhetoric.”

Paul resigned from his position as director of the State Department's Bureau of Political-Military Affairs in October, citing an “unprecedented unwillingness to consider the humanitarian consequences of our policy decisions.”

The absence of a desire to have that discussion when it comes to Israel is not evidence of our commitment to Israel's security. Rather, it is evidence of our commitment to a policy that, as the record shows, is a dead end – and evidence of our willingness to abandon our values ​​and turn a blind eye to the suffering of millions in Gaza when it is politically expedient to do so.” He said.

Anel Shelin became the second person to resign, leaving her position in the Near East Division of the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor in March, saying she no longer wanted to join that administration “because it was ignoring American laws by continuing to arm Israel.”

Ms. Shilin said in an interview after her resignation that she initially planned to leave quietly, but spoke out after colleagues encouraged her to do so.

“There are certainly a lot of people within the State Department who are very appalled by what is happening,” Schellen said. the National.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken responded to an initial wave of opposition cables over the war in Gaza in November, writing in a letter to staff to acknowledge those sentiments.

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“I know that the suffering this crisis has caused for many of you has a profound personal impact,” Blinken said in the letter obtained by Reuters.

Palestinian children play among the rubble in Rafah (France Press agency)

“The pain of seeing daily images of infants, children, the elderly, women and other civilians suffering in this crisis is excruciating. I feel it myself,” he said.

Blaha, who retired last year, said several people asked him if he would resign if he were still in office.

“My only answer was I'm really glad I'm not in this situation,” he said.

Biden told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday that future US policy toward Israel will be determined by whether its government takes action to protect aid workers and civilians in Gaza.

This warning came in their first phone conversation since Israeli army drones fired three missiles at an aid convoy belonging to the Global Central Kitchen.

In a readout of the call, the White House said Biden told the Israeli leader that the raid on aid workers and the “general humanitarian situation” in Gaza were “unacceptable” and “made clear” to Netanyahu that US policy would stop. On whether his government could “announce and implement a series of specific, concrete and measurable steps to address civilian harm, human suffering and the safety of aid workers.”

On Friday, the Israeli army announced the end of its internal investigation into the incident.

While the IDF admitted to making a “serious mistake”, it continued to claim its innocence in the attack – insisting that the WCK workers were “misidentified” as Hamas fighters. The army said that two military officers were dismissed from their positions following these findings.

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