Over 500 people in President Biden’s administration have signed a letter calling for the de-escalation of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza.
The letter, presented to Biden and his cabinet on Tuesday, denounced the Hamas attacks on the 7th of October that killed 1,200 Israelis – most of them civilians – as well as calling for a ceasefire and criticizing the administration’s early support for Israel’s response. The death toll in Gaza is now above 11,000, according to its Health Ministry, and various UN agencies have warned that the majority of the dead are women and children.
A separate internal memo, reportedly organised by a “junior diplomat” in the State Department and signed by 100 staffers, also accused Biden of failing to counter Israeli “war crimes” in Gaza. This criticism follows Biden’s public support of Israel’s right to defend itself in the early weeks of the war.
Charles Lister, senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, told ‘The Guardian’, “The trigger for much of the internal dissent was Biden’s public comments – initially his zero-sum approach to the issue and then his misinformed scepticism of casualty figures in Gaza.”
More recently, the government’s tone has hardened. Following the Israeli military’s repeated attacks on medical facilities in Gaza, Biden said on Monday that hospitals “must be protected”.
Also on Monday, national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said the US is focused on negotiations to free hostages being held by Hamas, and that they are urging Israel “to continue taking every possible measure to protect civilians”