A senior official in the U.S. Education Department stepped down on Wednesday, citing President Joe Biden's handling of the conflict in Gaza, the latest sign of dissent in the administration as deaths continue to grow in the conflict.
Tariq Habash, special assistant in the Education Department's Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, said, "I cannot stay silent as this administration turns a blind eye to the atrocities committed against innocent Palestinian lives, in what leading human rights experts have called a genocidal campaign by the Israeli government," in a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.
U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller earlier on Wednesday said that the U.S. has not observed acts in Gaza that constitute genocide.
Habash had been among the administration staffers of Middle East, Muslim and Jewish background taking part in meetings with senior White House officials and others in the administration in response to staffers' concerns on the U.S. role in the conflict.
He described the sessions as more briefings from higher-ups than opportunities for staffers to be heard.
Also on Wednesday, 17 Biden re-election campaign staffers issued a warning in an anonymous letter that Biden could lose voters over the issue, urging Biden to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.
Habash becomes at least the second official to resign from the administration in protest of Biden's actions regarding the conflict. U.S. State Department veteran Josh Paul resigned in October as the country boosted lethal arms transfers to Israel.
(With input from agencies)
(Cover: The buildings destroyed in the Israeli bombardment in Gaza City, January 3, 2024. /CFP)