US Official Who Resigned Over Gaza Says Report Absolving Israel ‘Patently False’

Stacy Gilbert, a 20-year State Dept. veteran, described reading the final NSM-20 report in shock, given the way it contradicted expert consensus. She immediately decided to resign.

Stacy Gilbert at lectern
Stacy Gilbert, a U.S. State Department official who resigned over Gaza, said on May 30, 2024, that part of a key report on humanitarian assistance issued earlier in the month was “patently false” and that it contradicted the consensus of the department’s own experts.
 (Photo: US Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration)

EDWARD CARVER

May 30, 2024 – https://www.commondreams.org/

Stacy Gilbert, a U.S. State Department official who resigned this week over Gaza, said Thursday that part of a key report on humanitarian assistance issued earlier this month was “patently false” and that it contradicted the consensus of the department’s own experts, according toThe Guardian.

Humanitarian groups had widely condemned the department’s NSM-20 report, released May 10, which, among other contentious findings, determined that Israel wasn’t restricting the transport or delivery of U.S. humanitarian assistance—an assessment that allowed the Biden administration to continue providing arms to Israel. Countries that have blocked U.S. aid are ineligible for arms and security assistance under U.S. law.

Gilbert’s comments on Thursday revealed that department officials, and not just outside humanitarian groups, disagreed with the official assessment, which she said was taken out of expert hands within the department during the final weeks and “edited at a higher level.” She told The Guardian that it was clear that Israel was limiting the amount of food and medical supplies coming into Gaza.

“There is consensus among the humanitarian community on that,” Gilbert said. “It is absolutely the opinion of the humanitarian subject matter experts in the state department, and not just in my bureau—people who look at this from the intelligence community and from other bureaus.”

“I would be very hard pressed to think of anyone who has said [Israeli obstruction of aid] is not an issue,” she added. “That’s why I object to that report saying that Israel is not blocking humanitarian assistance. That is patently false.”

The Washington Post, which broke the story of Gilbert’s resignation on Tuesday, reported that her view that “Israel was impeding the aid from reaching civilians in Gaza” was “echoed by the vast majority of aid and humanitarian organizations.”

It was not clear from the reporting in The Guardian or the Post whether Gilbert also disagreed with the other major assessment in the NSM-20 report—that U.S.-supplied weapons couldn’t be definitively linked to violations of international law in Gaza. Oxfam called the report a “slap in the face,” citing a memorandum it had jointly written with Human Rights Watch on international law violations and Israeli restrictions on aid. Other humanitarian and watchdog groups had similar responses to the report.

Gilbert, a 20-year department veteran who worked in the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, described reading the final NSM-20 report in shock when it was released. She sent an email explaining her intention to resign just two hours later. This week, she sent another email to department staff explaining her views about the errors in the report, according to the Post.

Gilbert is one of two Biden administration officials to resign this week, bringing the overall total to at least nine. Alexander Smith, a contractor and senior adviser at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), resigned Monday after a presentation that he prepared on maternal and child health in Gaza was canceled. He sent a letter to USAID Administrator Samantha Power critiquing inconsistencies in the agency’s approach to different humanitarian crises, The Guardian reported. Smith had been with USAID for four years.

“I cannot do my job in an environment in which specific people cannot be acknowledged as fully human, or where gender and human rights principles apply to some, but not to others, depending on their race,” Smith wrote.