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More than 500 US officials sign letter protesting Biden’s Israel policies

More than 500 politicians and staffers representing about 40 government agencies sent a letter to President Biden on Tuesday protesting his support for Israel in its war in Gaza.

The letter, part of growing internal dissent over the administration’s support for the war, calls on the president to seek an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and push Israel to authorize humanitarian aid on the territory. It is the latest in a series of protest letters from officials across the Biden administration, including three internal memos to Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken signed by dozens of staffers. State Department as well as an open letter signed by more than 1,000 employees of the American agency. for international development.

The signatories to the letter submitted Tuesday and the one circulating among USAID employees are anonymous, the USAID letter explains, out of “concern for our personal safety and the risk of potentially losing our jobs.” Signatories to the State Department dissent cables must disclose their names, but the cables have not been made public.

Although the Biden administration recently began expressing concern over the high number of Palestinian civilians killed while urging Israel to exercise restraint, these emerging criticisms do not appear to appease many within the U.S. government.

The letter, a copy of which was reviewed by The New York Times, began by denouncing the October 7 Hamas attacks, then urged Mr. Biden to end the bloodshed caused by Israel’s military campaign of retaliation in Gaza.

“We call on President Biden to urgently demand a ceasefire; and call for a de-escalation of the current conflict by obtaining the immediate release of Israeli hostages and arbitrarily detained Palestinians; restoration of water, fuel, electricity and other basic services; and the passage of adequate humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip,” the letter said.

Organizers continued collecting signatures even after the letter was delivered to Mr. Biden, and as of Tuesday afternoon, the letter had about 100 more names than the 402 to which it had been formally submitted. Organizers of the letter said they intend to update the White House daily on updated signature counts.

Two political figures who helped organize the letter to Mr. Biden said the majority of signatories are political figures of various faiths who work in government, from the National Security Council to the FBI and the Justice Department.

Some of the signatories helped Mr. Biden get elected in 2020 and said in interviews that they feared the administration’s support for Israel’s war in Gaza would conflict with Democratic voters’ stance on the question.

“The overwhelming majority of Americans support a ceasefire,” the letter said, referring to an October poll that showed 66 percent of Americans, including 80 percent of Democrats, think the United States should do so. pressure on Israel to obtain a cease-fire. fire.

“Moreover, Americans do not want the U.S. military to be drawn into another costly and senseless war in the Middle East. »

Israel launched a ground invasion of Gaza last month in response to bloody Hamas attacks on October 7 that killed around 1,200 people, according to the Israeli government. So far, more than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli military offensive, according to Gaza’s health ministry.

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