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HomeMiddle EastPentagon intelligence officer resigned over US toughen for struggle in Gaza

Pentagon intelligence officer resigned over US toughen for struggle in Gaza

WASHINGTON — A US military intelligence officer resigned late last year in protest of what he saw as the unjust nature of US support for Israel’s war in the Gaza Strip, saying he felt he played a role in “advancing a policy that enables the mass starvation of children.”

US Army Maj. Harrison Mann of the Defense Intelligence Agency published a letter on LinkedIn on Monday describing the rationale behind his resignation, which he submitted to his superiors some three weeks after the Oct. 7 war began.

In the letter, Mann, a 13-year Army veteran, criticized the Biden administration’s policy of supporting Israel’s war effort as having “enabled and empowered the killing and starvation of tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians.”

“As we were recently reminded, this unconditional support also encourages reckless escalation that risks wider war,” he wrote, ostensibly in reference to a recent massive barrage of drones and missiles fired by Iran toward Israel, part of a wider regional escalation that Pentagon officials have sought to contain while still sending arms to Israel for use in Gaza.

Why it matters: Mann’s resignation is the first by a Pentagon official publicly stated to have been linked to the Gaza war. 

In October, Josh Paul, a State Department official with the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, resigned in protest over President Joe Biden’s policy of unconditional arms transfers to Israel. Paul argued the policy violated both the Biden administration’s internal guidance and US laws about foreign arms transfers. 

Several other State Department officials have resigned over US policy since.

Mann said in his post on LinkedIn that he submitted his resignation on Nov. 1, 2023, and that he circulated an earlier version of the letter internally at the DIA on April 16 before releasing it publicly on Monday. US military officers’ resignations can often take many months to approve, if approved at all. It remains unclear whether Mann’s resignation, which he said was triggered by “this moral injury” of his role in supporting the Gaza war, has been accepted.

“I told myself my individual contribution was minimal, and that if I didn’t do my job, someone else would, so why cause a stir for nothing,” Mann wrote.

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

“I know that I did, in my small way, wittingly advance that policy. And I want to clarify that as the descendent of European Jews, I was raised in a particularly unforgiving moral environment when it came to the topic of bearing responsibility for ethnic cleansing,” he wrote.

Mann did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

Middle East veteran: The LinkedIn page bearing Mann’s resignation letter lists him as a graduate of William & Mary college and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. More recently, until his resignation, he was a Foreign Area Officer specialized in the Middle East — a role that typically describes officers stationed at embassies in military liaison roles.

US military Foreign Area Officers often relay requests from foreign governments for arms purchases to the State Department and provide advice on such decisions. It was not immediately clear if Mann had recently served as a defense attache.

Know more: The State Department on Friday belatedly released its conclusion on whether Israel’s military is using US weapons in line with international humanitarian law, but it skirted a firm answer on the question, despite evidence presented by rights groups.

The State Department’s report on National Security Memorandum 20 concluded that Israel had likely deployed US-origin weapons in Gaza in a manner that is inconsistent with international law, but it said that Israel had only provided “limited information” in response to US government inquiries into the matter.

The inconclusive report comes as the Biden administration tries to persuade Israeli leaders not to launch a full-blown, ground-clearing operation in Rafah, where 1.4 million Palestinian civilians have sheltered from the war. At least 360,000 of them have since fled as the Israeli military expanded its operations there and in Gaza’s north over the weekend, the UNRWA said.

“The Biden administration is taking at face value many of the representations made by the Netanyahu government,” US Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) told reporters on Friday, criticizing the NSM-20 report as a missed opportunity.


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