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US army major quits, citing ‘guilt’ for contributing to Gaza mass killings

A senior US army officer has resigned, citing his country’s support for Israel as a reason for the widespread loss of Palestinian civilian lives, adding to a string of resignations by high-ranking American military and civilian officials.

In a letter released on Monday Harrison Mann, an army major, explained to his colleagues at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) that his November resignation was in fact due to “moral injury” stemming from US support for Israel’s war in Gaza and the harm caused to Palestinians.

“I was afraid. Afraid of violating our professional norms. Afraid of disappointing officers I respect. Afraid you would feel betrayed. I’m sure some of you will feel that way reading this,” Mann wrote in a letter shared with colleagues last month and published on his LinkedIn profile.

DIA did not respond to a request for comment.

Mann said he felt shame and guilt for helping advance US policy that he said contributed to the mass killing of Palestinians.

“The past months have presented us with the most horrific and heartbreaking images imaginable — sometimes playing on the news in our own spaces — and I have been unable to ignore the connection between those images and my duties here. This caused me incredible shame and guilt,” Mann wrote.

Mann would be the first known DIA official to quit over US support to Israel.

An American airman Aaron Bushnell fatally set himself on fire in February outside Israel’s embassy in Washington and other military personnel have protested.

More than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed and 78,827 wounded in Israel’s relentless bombing and shelling of Gaza. There has been increasing concern about the lack of humanitarian aid allowed into Gaza by Israel, and growing international warnings about starvation taking lives.

‘Speak out against injustices’

“At some point — whatever the justification — you’re either advancing a policy that enables the mass starvation of children, or you’re not,” Mann details in his letter.

Mann’s resignation letter garnered widespread praise on social media, with many commending his bold stance.

Amar Billoo, among others, hailed it as a remarkable act of courage in the pursuit of justice and humanity.

Expressing hope that Mann’s example would embolden fellow members of the armed forces to speak out against injustices and stand up for what they believe in, users noted that Mann’s courageous decision would resonate within the military community and spark important conversations.

The resignation of Dr. Annelle Sheline from the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor stands out as the most significant exit from the department since Josh Paul, a senior official in the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, also departed. Hala Rharrit, a foreign service officer with over 18 years of experience, recently resigned, emphasising, “We have lost our moral footing,” and characterising US attempts to halt the Israeli conflict in Gaza as an ineffective strategy.

The high death toll has fuelled pro-Palestinian protests that have swept college campuses across the United States and pushed Democrats in key battleground states to vote “uncommitted” to signal their unhappiness ahead of this year’s presidential election.

President Joe Biden, a staunch supporter of Israel and self-described Zionist, put a hold on one package of arms, in a policy shift that became public last week, and his administration said the US was reviewing others.

The Biden administration on Friday said Israel’s use of US-supplied weapons may have violated international humanitarian law during its military operation in Gaza, in its strongest criticism to date of Israel.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January said it is “plausible” that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza and ordered Tel Aviv to stop such acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

Francesca Albanese, the UN special rapporteur on the rights situation in the Palestinian territories, says there are reasonable grounds to believe Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.

On Monday, US asserted that its ally in the Middle East is not involved in the genocide of Palestinians.

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Last modified: May 14, 2024

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