Former US Military Intelligence Official Says He Resigned Over Gaza War 

Israeli tanks maneuver along the border with the Gaza Strip, near the Palestinian city of Jabalia (background), as seen from the Israeli side of the border, southern Israel, 13 May 2024. (EPA)
Israeli tanks maneuver along the border with the Gaza Strip, near the Palestinian city of Jabalia (background), as seen from the Israeli side of the border, southern Israel, 13 May 2024. (EPA)
TT

Former US Military Intelligence Official Says He Resigned Over Gaza War 

Israeli tanks maneuver along the border with the Gaza Strip, near the Palestinian city of Jabalia (background), as seen from the Israeli side of the border, southern Israel, 13 May 2024. (EPA)
Israeli tanks maneuver along the border with the Gaza Strip, near the Palestinian city of Jabalia (background), as seen from the Israeli side of the border, southern Israel, 13 May 2024. (EPA)

A former US military intelligence official released a letter on Monday that explained to his colleagues at the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) that his November resignation was in fact due to "moral injury" stemming from US support for Israel's war in Gaza and the harm caused to Palestinians.

Harrison Mann, an Army major, would be the first known DIA official to quit over US support to Israel. A US airman fatally set himself on fire in February outside Israel's embassy in Washington and other military personnel have protested.

Mann said he kept quiet about his motives for resigning for months out of fear.

"I was afraid. Afraid of violating our professional norms. Afraid of disappointing officers I respect. Afraid you would feel betrayed. I'm sure some of you will feel that way reading this," Mann wrote in a letter shared with colleagues last month and published on his LinkedIn profile on Monday.

A DIA official confirmed to Reuters that Mann worked at the agency.

"Employee resignations are a routine occurrence at DIA as they are at other employers, and employees resign their positions for any number of reasons and motivations," the official said, without elaborating.

Mann's case differs from other US government officials, including several State Department officials, who publicly deplored US policy as they resigned rather than waiting months to explain their departure.

Man said he felt shame and guilt for helping advance US policy that he said contributed to the mass killing of Palestinians.

"At some point — whatever the justification — you're either advancing a policy that enables the mass starvation of children, or you're not," Mann wrote.

Israel is retaliating against Hamas over an Oct. 7 attack in which Israel says the militants killed about 1,200 people and took more than 250 people hostage.

More than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed and 78,827 injured in Israel's military offensive on Gaza, according to the Gaza health ministry. There has been increasing concern about the lack of humanitarian aid allowed into Gaza by Israel, and growing US and international warnings about the risk of famine.

The high death toll has fueled pro-Palestinian protests that have swept college campuses across the United States and pushed Democrats in key battleground states to vote "uncommitted" to signal their unhappiness ahead of this year's presidential election.

President Joe Biden, a staunch supporter of Israel, put a hold on one package of arms, in a major policy shift that became public last week, and his administration said the US was reviewing others.

The Biden administration on Friday said Israel's use of US-supplied weapons may have violated international humanitarian law during its military operation in Gaza, in its strongest criticism to date of Israel.



US Renews Warning It’s Obligated to Defend the Philippines after Its New Clash with China at Sea

A dilapidated but still active Philippine Navy ship BRP Sierra Madre sits at the Second Thomas Shoal, locally known as Ayungin Shoal, at the disputed South China Sea on Aug. 22, 2023. (AP)
A dilapidated but still active Philippine Navy ship BRP Sierra Madre sits at the Second Thomas Shoal, locally known as Ayungin Shoal, at the disputed South China Sea on Aug. 22, 2023. (AP)
TT

US Renews Warning It’s Obligated to Defend the Philippines after Its New Clash with China at Sea

A dilapidated but still active Philippine Navy ship BRP Sierra Madre sits at the Second Thomas Shoal, locally known as Ayungin Shoal, at the disputed South China Sea on Aug. 22, 2023. (AP)
A dilapidated but still active Philippine Navy ship BRP Sierra Madre sits at the Second Thomas Shoal, locally known as Ayungin Shoal, at the disputed South China Sea on Aug. 22, 2023. (AP)

The United States renewed a warning Tuesday that it’s obligated to defend its close treaty ally a day after Filipino navy personnel were injured and their supply boats damaged in one of the most serious confrontations between the Philippines and China in a disputed shoal in the South China Sea, officials said.

China and the Philippines blamed each other for instigating Monday’s hostilities in the Second Thomas Shoal, which has been occupied by a small Filipino navy contingent aboard a grounded warship that's been closely watched by Chinese coast guard, navy and suspected militia ships in a yearslong territorial standoff. There is fear the disputes, long regarded as an Asian flashpoint, could escalate and pit the United States and China in a larger conflict.

US Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell discussed China's actions with Philippine counterpart, Maria Theresa Lazaro, in a telephone call. Both agreed that China’s “dangerous actions threatened regional peace and stability,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said.

Campbell reaffirmed that the 1951 Mutual Defense Treaty, which obligates Washington and Manila to help defend the other in major conflicts, “extends to armed attacks on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, or aircraft – including those of its coast guard – anywhere in the South China Sea,” according to Miller.

A Philippine government task force overseeing the territorial disputes condemned what it said were “dangerous maneuvers, including ramming and towing,” which disrupted a routine effort to transport food, water and other supplies to the Filipinos manning the territorial outpost aboard the BRP Sierra Madre at the shoal.

“Despite the illegal, aggressive, and reckless actions by the Chinese maritime forces, our personnel showed restraint and professionalism, refrained from escalating the tension, and carried on with their mission,” the Philippine task force said without elaborating. “Their actions put at risk the lives of our personnel and damaged our boats in blatant violation of international law.”

The Chinese coast guard said the Philippines “is entirely responsible for this.” It said a Philippine vessel “ignored China’s repeated solemn warnings ... and dangerously approached a Chinese vessel in normal navigation in an unprofessional manner, resulting in a collision."

Two speedboats — attempting to deliver construction materials and other supplies to a military vessel stationed at the shoal — accompanied the supply ship, according to China’s Foreign Ministry, which described its coast guard’s maneuver as “professional, restrained, reasonable and lawful."

Philippine Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said Monday night that his country’s armed forces would resist “China’s dangerous and reckless behavior,” which “contravenes their statements of good faith and decency."

“We will exert our utmost in order to fulfill our sworn mandate to protect our territorial integrity, sovereignty, and sovereign rights,” Teodoro said. “It should now be clear to the international community that China’s actions are the true obstacles to peace and stability in the South China Sea.”

Several incidents have happened in recent months near the shoal which lies less than 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers) from the nearest Philippines coast and where it maintains the Sierra Madre, which had become encrusted with rust since it was deliberately grounded in 1999 but remains an actively commissioned military vessel, meaning an attack on it could be considered by the Philippines as an act of war.

China has increasingly become assertive in pressing its claim to virtually the entire South China Sea, which has led to a rising number of direct conflicts with other countries in the region, most notably the Philippines and Vietnam.

A new law by China, which took effect Saturday, authorizes its coast guard to seize foreign ships “that illegally enter China’s territorial waters” and to detain foreign crews for up to 60 days. The law renewed a reference to 2021 legislation that says China’s coast guard can fire upon foreign ships if necessary.

At least three coastal governments with claims to the waters — the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan — have said they would not recognize the law. Malaysia and Brunei are also involved in the long-seething territorial disputes, which are regarded as a delicate fault line in the longstanding US-China rivalry in the region.