An internal memo from the U.S. State Department is urging the Biden administration to change its strategy around Israel, accusing federal officials of “spreading misinformation” about the latest conflict with Palestinians in Gaza.
The memo, obtained by Axios, was signed by 100 State Department and USAID employees and urges senior officials to reassess U.S. policy toward Israel and demand a ceasefire for Israel’s response to a deadly terrorist attack carried out by Hamas on Oct. 7.
“Members of the White House and (the National Security Council) displayed a clear disregard for the lives of Palestinians, a documented unwillingness to de-escalate, and, even prior to October 7, a reckless lack of strategic foresight,” the memo states.
The document also criticizes President Joe Biden for questioning the number of Palestinian deaths, addressing a statement he recently made saying he has “no confidence” in the death count.
Around 1,400 people were killed in the Oct. 7 attack. Israel issued a blistering response with an aerial bombardment campaign that has resulted in the deaths of more than 11,000, while another 28,200 are injured. These figures could rise, given that at least 2,551 people are still trapped under the rubble of the 53,700 buildings that Israel has destroyed.
The State Department memo says that “we strongly recommend that the (U.S. government) advocate for the release of hostages by both Hamas and (Israel),” citing “thousands” of Palestinians being held in Israel, including those “without charge,” Axios reported.
Authors of the memo also criticized Israeli policy that has cut off Gaza’s access to electricity, limited aid from being delivered, and resulted in the displacement of more than 1.5 million Palestinians. “All constitute war crimes and/or crimes against humanity under international law,” the memo says.
“Yet we have failed to reassess our posture towards Israel,” the memo states. “We doubled down on our unwavering military assistance to the (Israeli government) without clear or actionable redlines.”