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US State Department Official Resigns, Claims Biden Administration Report Falsely Stated Israel Was Not Blocking Aid To Gaza

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden, left, meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, to discuss the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel. Miriam Alster/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

A US State Department official resigned on Thursday. She said her resignation was precipitated by an administration report to Congress that falsely stated Israel was not blocking humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Stacy Gilbert, who served in the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, was a subject matter expert working on the report.

“There is so clearly a right and wrong, and what is in that report is wrong.”

US State Department report cleared Israel

The UN and aid groups have long complained of the dangers to getting and distributing aid in and throughout Gaza.

The State Department submitted the 46-page unclassified report earlier this month to Congress. This has been required under a new National Security Memorandum (NSM) that Biden issued in early February.

The report said Israel “did not fully cooperate” with US and other efforts to get humanitarian aid into Gaza.

But this did not amount to a breach of a US law that blocks the provision of arms to countries that restrict humanitarian aid.

Biden administration says it stands by report

Gilbert said she notified her office the day the State Department report was released that she would resign. Her last day was Tuesday.

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US State Department deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters he would not comment on personnel issues. He said the administration stood by the report. It also continued to press Israel to avoid harming civilians and expand humanitarian aid to Gaza.

“We are not an administration that twists the facts.”

The Israeli embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to comment.

Official claims draft of her report was edited by senior officials

Gilbert’s bureau was one of the four that contributed to a classified initial options memo. This report told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Israel was violating international humanitarian law.

Gilbert said the State Department removed subject matter experts from working on the report to Congress when the document was a rough draft. This was about 10 days before it was due. She said the report was then edited by more senior officials.

In contrast to the published version, the last draft she saw stated that Israel was blocking humanitarian assistance.

Other officials who have resigned include Arab language spokesperson Hala Rharrit and Annelle Sheline of the human rights bureau.

With inputs from Reuters