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Sunday, February 25, 2024

US homeland security dept staff in letter denounce handling of Gaza conflict

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Over 100 staff members of the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) have signed an open letter to US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas denouncing the department’s handling of the conflict in the Gaza Strip, the Al Jazeera broadcaster reported Thursday, citing the letter.

In the letter, obtained by the broadcaster and dated November 22, 139 staff members from DHS and its agencies, including US Customs and Border Protection, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Citizenship and Immigration Services, expressed frustration with the “palpable, glaring absence in the Department’s messaging” of “recognition, support, and mourning” for over 18,000 Palestinians killed in Gaza, the report said.

“The grave humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the conditions in the West Bank are circumstances that the Department would generally respond to in various ways … Yet DHS leadership has seemingly turned a blind eye to the bombing of refugee camps, hospitals, ambulances, and civilians,” the broadcaster quoted the letter as saying.

The staff members call on the department to “provide a fair and balanced representation of the situation, and allow for respectful expression without the fear of professional repercussions,” the report cited the letter.

On October 7, Palestinian movement Hamas launched a large-scale rocket attack against Israel from the Gaza Strip and breached the border, killing over 1,200 people and abducting some 240 others.

Israel launched retaliatory strikes, ordered a complete blockade of Gaza and launched a ground incursion into the Palestinian enclave with the declared goal of eliminating Hamas fighters and rescuing the hostages.

Over 18,000 people have been killed so far in Gaza as a result of the conflict, according to local authorities.

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