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State Department Human Rights Official Resigns Over Biden’s Gaza Policy

“President Joe Biden himself indirectly admits that Israel is not protecting Palestinian civilians from harm,” she claimed.

A foreign affairs officer at the State Department's Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor announced her resignation on Wednesday to protest the Biden administration's handling of the ongoing Israel-Gaza conflict.

Fighting has persisted, albeit with limited humanitarian pauses, since an Oct. 7 Hamas raid that saw the group's forces seize more than 200 hostages, storm Israeli border towns, and kill roughly 1,200 hostages.

"For the past year, I worked for the office devoted to promoting human rights in the Middle East," wrote Annelle Sheline in CNN op-ed. "I believe strongly in the mission and in the important work of that office. However, as a representative of a government that is directly enabling what the International Court of Justice has said could plausibly be a genocide in Gaza, such work has become almost impossible."

Sheline highlighted the estimated civilian death toll of 32,000, which has been reported by the Gaza Ministry of Health. She further pointed to the potential threat of mass famine for the roughly 2 million people in the strip and the Israeli plans to attack Rafah.

"President Joe Biden himself indirectly admits that Israel is not protecting Palestinian civilians from harm. Under pressure from some congressional Democrats, the administration issued a new policy to ensure that foreign military transfers don’t violate relevant domestic and international laws," she continued.

"By resigning publicly, I am saddened by the knowledge that I likely foreclose a future at the State Department. I had not initially planned a public resignation," she continued. "Because my time at State had been so short — I was hired on a two-year contract — I did not think I mattered enough to announce my resignation publicly. However, when I started to tell colleagues of my decision to resign, the response I heard repeatedly was, 'Please speak for us.'"

Sheline is not the first State Department official to resign over the Biden administration's handling of the issue. In October of last year, former State Department Director of Congressional & Public Affairs Josh Paul publicly resigned, citing similar frustrations with the Israeli invasion of Gaza.

"I believe to the core of my soul that the response Israel is taking, and with it the American support both for that response, and for the status quo of the occupation, will only lead to more and deeper suffering for both the Israeli and the Palestinian people – and is not in the long term American interest," he said at the time.

The same week, State Department officials reportedly began circulating an internal dissent cable in what unnamed officials described as a "mutiny" at the time.

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