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USAID Whistleblowers Accuse Biden Of ‘Direct Complicity’ In Gaza Famine

Above photo: Jehad Alshrafi / Anadolu / Getty Images.

The White House is accused of ignoring dozens of internal dissent memos.

They have warned for months about the spread of famine in Gaza as a result of Israel’s genocidal war tactics.

Current and former officials from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the State Department say the White House has ignored months of internal warnings about the spread of famine in the besieged Gaza Strip, according to an in-depth investigation by the Independent.

“I believe the US to be complicit in creating the conditions for famine. Not only has our response been woefully inadequate, but we’re actively responsible in large part for it,” a USAID employee told the British daily.

Internal documents reviewed by the Independent show that staffers have repeatedly warned USAID administrator Samantha Power and other senior leaders about the intensifying crisis in Gaza “often to no avail.”

“What was surprising to me, and deeply disappointing, was the fact that we were hearing nothing about imminent famine in Gaza,” a USAID staffer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, is quoted as saying.

According to the investigation, at least 19 internal dissent memos have been sent since the start of the Israeli genocide in Gaza by USAID staff, with one of the most recent ones chastising the White House for its “failure to uphold international humanitarian principles and to adhere to its mandate to save lives.”

In an internal dissent cable leaked to HuffPost in early April, officials warned that “the threshold to support a famine determination has likely already been crossed” and that the level of hunger and malnutrition in Gaza was “unprecedented in modern history.”

“Having worked in the administration during the Afghan withdrawal and also the Russian invasion of Ukraine, so many efforts were spearheaded and led, and normal procedures were bypassed given the urgent humanitarian situation. [In Gaza], however, it has been a totally different ballgame. There are systemic issues with how we issue Palestinian cases,” a homeland security official told Responsible Statecraft earlier this week.

“Any kind of initiative to expedite help for Palestinians has been blocked or quelled or slowed down dramatically in a way that I’ve never seen before … As the months dragged on, it became evident that the dissent channels that the State Department likes to tout are about placating staff more than actually listening to those with deep regional and policy expertise and making changes,” the 15-year federal employee added.

Furthermore, the USAID whistleblowers who spoke with the Independent described Washington’s public proclamations of doing all it can to stop the spread of hunger as “very disingenuous.”

“I don’t believe that the President of the United States – Israel’s most important ally and benefactor – has so little leverage that he can’t force them to take meaningful steps to really allow in the amount of aid that is necessary to save lives. It feels like there was no real effort to force Israel’s hands in terms of ensuring greater access to humanitarian assistance,” the US officials say.

Jan Egeland, the Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, a humanitarian organization with dozens of aid workers operating in Gaza, told the British daily that there is a “double standard” from the White House when it comes to Israel.

“The administration could have [pressed Israel to cease its aid restrictions] through the application of Section 620I of the Foreign Assistance Act, which prohibits assistance to countries restricting US-funded humanitarian assistance; it could have done so through the withholding of arms shipments; it could have done so by supporting resolutions at the UN calling on Israel to stop restricting humanitarian assistance,” Egeland says, stressing that Washington’s “diplomatic impotence has been astounding.”

Dozens of Palestinians – most of them children – have died from starvation as hundreds of thousands are living under conditions of “full-blown famine” in the north of the enclave.

Despite the critical situation, the Israeli army has routinely blocked the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza. Moreover, mobs of Israeli settlers regularly attack the small trickle of aid deliveries headed for the strip, destroying the food and attacking truck drivers.

On 16 May, the World Food Programme (WFP) announced that it ran out of stock in southern Rafah and had suspended food aid distributions there since 11 May. As conditions worse, US Central Command (CENTCOM) announced on Thursday it had anchored a floating pier off the coast of Gaza that will allegedly allow for limited aid deliveries.

Speaking to the Independent, Jeremy Konyndyk, a former high-ranking USAID official, described Washington’s plan as a “major policy failure.”

“When the US government has to use tactics that it otherwise used to circumvent the Soviets in Berlin and circumvent ISIS in Syria and Iraq, that should prompt some really hard questions about the state of US policy,” he said.

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