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Middle East

Ex official: US State Department lied in a report that let Israel off the hook for Gaza help

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  • Stacy Gilbert, a former senior adviser at the US State Department, resigned over a report she claims falsely absolved Israel of blocking humanitarian aid to Gaza.
  • The report's findings have significant implications under the Foreign Assistance Act, which mandates cutting arms sales to countries obstructing US aid.
  • The controversy highlights broader concerns about the accuracy and transparency of US foreign policy reports and their impact on humanitarian efforts.

Stacy Gilbert, a seasoned US State Department official, resigned in protest over what she described as a "patently false" report absolving Israel of obstructing humanitarian aid to Gaza. Gilbert, who served as a senior civil military adviser in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, has brought to light significant concerns about the integrity of US foreign policy reports and their impact on humanitarian efforts in conflict zones.

The controversy centers around a report mandated under National Security Memorandum 20 (NSM-20), which was published on May 10, 2024. The report concluded that Israel had not blocked the transport or delivery of US humanitarian assistance in Gaza, a judgment that Gilbert and other experts vehemently disagreed with. "The report's content is demonstrably false," Gilbert stated in an interview, highlighting the discrepancies between the report's findings and the on-ground realities in Gaza.

Gilbert's resignation is not an isolated incident. It follows a series of resignations by US officials who have expressed similar concerns about the Biden administration's Gaza policy. Alexander Smith, a senior adviser at the US Agency for International Development (USAID), also resigned, citing inconsistencies in the agency's approach to humanitarian crises and the treatment of Palestinians. These resignations underscore a growing discontent within the US government regarding its handling of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The NSM-20 report's findings are particularly significant because, under the Foreign Assistance Act, the US is obligated to cut arms sales and security assistance to any country found to have blocked the delivery of US aid. Gilbert, who has extensive experience in war zones, argued that while other factors, such as security issues caused by Hamas and the desperation of Palestinians, impeded aid flow, Israel's role in limiting food and medical supplies crossing into Gaza was undeniable.

Gilbert's allegations are supported by various humanitarian organizations and the United Nations, which have long voiced concerns over the challenges and risks associated with delivering aid within Gaza. The Palestinian death toll has surpassed 36,000, and the humanitarian crisis in the enclave continues to worsen. Critics have accused the US of providing weapons to Israel and defending its actions, further complicating the situation.

The State Department's response to Gilbert's resignation has been one of denial. Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel emphasized the department's commitment to diverse viewpoints and reaffirmed the administration's stance on the report. "We are not an administration that manipulates facts, and the accusations leveled against us are unfounded," Patel stated.

However, Gilbert's revelations have sparked a broader debate about the accuracy and transparency of US foreign policy reports. She disclosed that subject matter experts were removed from the report to Congress when it was still a rough draft, approximately 10 days before its submission. The report was then edited by more senior officials, resulting in a published version that contradicted her understanding of the situation. "The last draft I reviewed stated that Israel was obstructing humanitarian assistance," Gilbert explained.

The implications of these findings are profound. If the US is found to have falsified reports to absolve Israel of blocking humanitarian aid, it could lead to significant changes in US foreign policy and its relationship with Israel. Moreover, it raises questions about the ethical responsibilities of government officials and the importance of accurate reporting in shaping international relations.

As the humanitarian crisis in Gaza continues to unfold, the need for transparent and accurate reporting becomes ever more critical. The resignations of Gilbert and other officials serve as a stark reminder of the importance of integrity and accountability in government, particularly when it comes to issues of life and death.

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