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Federal employees plan second action over Biden’s handling of Israel-Hamas war

U.S. President Joe Biden (L) meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the war between Israel and Hamas in Tel Aviv, Israel, on October 18. Biden was a strong supporter of Israel's actions in the early days of the war. File Pool Photo by Miriam Alster/UPI
U.S. President Joe Biden (L) meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the war between Israel and Hamas in Tel Aviv, Israel, on October 18. Biden was a strong supporter of Israel's actions in the early days of the war. File Pool Photo by Miriam Alster/UPI

WASHINGTON, Jan. 29 (UPI) -- A group of government employees from several federal agencies who want the Biden administration to call for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war has planned a "Day of Fasting" for Gaza on Thursday.

The forthcoming action by Feds United for Peace "aims to shed light on the humanitarian crisis faced by the people of Gaza," the group said in a press release Monday.

The planned action underscores discontent among some federal employees toward the administration's response to the Israel-Hamas war and the regional violence that has ensued.

About 1,200 people were killed and 240 were taken hostage in Hamas' attack on Israel on Oct. 7. The death toll in Gaza has surpassed 26,000 people, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, and more than 64,000 have been injured.

Organizers wrote that the Day of Fasting can encompass a range of efforts, and can look like a traditional all-day fast or include volunteering or donating to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the main body that provides relief to Palestinian refugees.

Protesters demonstrate for a permanent ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on December 19. File Photo by Julia Nikhinson/UPI
Protesters demonstrate for a permanent ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol in Washington on December 19. File Photo by Julia Nikhinson/UPI

Over the weekend, several countries, including the United States, suspended funding for the UNRWA, after Israel alleged that a dozen UNRWA employees were involved with Oct. 7 attack.

The new protest will come more than two weeks after the group's "Day of Mourning" Jan. 16, during which group members took leave from work to have a time of healing and mourn the loss of lives, organizers told Medill News Service.

Smoke billows during an Israeli strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday. Amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian fighters, Israel has alleged several UNRWA staff were involved in Hamas's October 7 attack, leading some key donor countries to suspend funding and the agency to fire several staff over the claims, Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI

They said that employees from 30 government agencies in Washington and across the nation participated.

The White House declined Monday to comment the federal employees' actions.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that State Department employees have a dissent channel to raise concerns, but employees ultimately “have to be on the job and do their jobs." Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI
Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that State Department employees have a dissent channel to raise concerns, but employees ultimately “have to be on the job and do their jobs." Photo by Bonnie Cash/UPI

After the "Day of Mourning," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on CNBC in Davos, Switzerland, at the World Economic Forum that he wants to work in an institution where people feel comfortable raising concerns and criticisms.

He added that State Department employees have a dissent channel to raise those concerns, but employees ultimately "have to be on the job and do their jobs."

In December, President Joe Biden said that Israel should "be more careful" as it pursues Hamas in Gaza and focus on trying to save more civilian lives. He also warned Israel about its "indiscriminate" bombing in the region.

Also in December, the United States promised to provide $121 million in total in humanitarian aid to Gaza and the West Bank, according to two separate announcements, one from Biden in October and another from the United States Agency for International Development, the organization responsible for humanitarian efforts.

As of November, the United States had delivered about 500,000 pounds of food to Gaza, according to USAID. By Dec. 5, the U.S. Defense Department had delivered 90,000 pounds of medical supplies, clothing and food over two separate trips to the region.

More than 100 former staffers from the Obama and Biden administrations defended Biden's approach, saying they appreciated his and Vice President Kamala Harris's leadership and "moral clarity" in a Nov. 17 letter that was first reported by The New York Times.

Feds United for Peace wrote that it believes that collective actions like "the Day of Mourning" and "A Day of Fasting" can "amplify the voices of those in need and encourage international efforts to address the root causes of the conflict."