A senior official in the US 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 war.
Also on Wednesday, 17 Biden re-election campaign staffers issued a warning in an anonymous letter that Biden could lose voters over the issue.
Tariq Habash, special assistant in the Education Department’s Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development, in a letter to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, 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.”
Habash, a Palestinian-American and an expert on student debt, was appointed early in Biden’s presidency as part of a build-out of the Education Department’s student loan expertise.
The 17 anonymous Biden re-election campaign staffers, in their letter, published on Medium, urged Biden to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.
“Biden for President staff have seen volunteers quit in droves, and people who have voted blue for decades feel uncertain about doing so for the first time ever, because of this conflict,” the staffers wrote in the letter.
Biden’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
State Department spokesman Matthew Miller earlier on Wednesday said that the US has not observed acts in Gaza that constitute genocide.
His remarks were in response to proceedings launched by South Africa at the International Court of Justice over Israel’s military operations in Gaza.
Israel also has denied claims of genocide in Gaza.