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Washington, D.C. — In response to the mounting humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Amnesty International USA, Avaaz, Demand Progress, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), MoveOn and Oxfam America delivered nearly 1 million signatures gathered by civil society organizations at the White House today, calling on President Biden to use his influence to bring about a sustained ceasefire between Palestinian armed groups and the government of Israel.
The pause in fighting, the release of people taken hostage by Hamas, and the release of Palestinians imprisoned, including children, by the government of Israel is a welcome relief for all those involved and their families. But far more is needed to address ongoing suffering and injustice. An immediate permanent ceasefire is essential to preventing further civilian loss of life. The violence has already resulted in a death toll of 14,800 in Gaza and over 1,200 in Israel, and this loss will only continue to increase without a ceasefire. The humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza has been escalating for weeks, with widespread internal displacement, massive loss of life, and the unlawful deprivation of critical resources like food, water, electricity, medicine, and fuel.
View photos from the event at this link.
“Nearly one million people across all 50 states are speaking out to demand that President Biden acts to help end the fighting. The recent pause in violence is welcome, but miles away from what we need in order to alleviate the escalating humanitarian crisis. We need a permanent ceasefire in order to enable humanitarian organizations to deliver much-needed aid safely and securely. More violence is not going to produce the safety and human rights that Israelis and Palestinians deserve, but it is sure to immeasurably deepen suffering in Gaza. We desperately need an end of the siege of Gaza, full humanitarian access, and the safe return of all the hostages to Israel,” said Scott Paul, Associate Director of Peace & Security at Oxfam America.
“Nearly a million people in this country have put their name down in one of our petitions calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza and Israel. They represent just a fraction of Americans who support a ceasefire today, as reflected by poll after poll. They know that the way the Israeli military and Hamas have been engaging in this conflict is in violation of international law. They know that a short pause in the fighting—even as it is welcome—will do nothing to assure that this will change. President Biden must do everything in his power to advance an immediate ceasefire today,” said Paul O’Brien, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA.
“We stand with a broad cross-section of Americans and humanitarian organizations in demanding the U.S. use its leverage and diplomatic tools to secure a permanent ceasefire and prevent further civilian suffering and loss of lives in both Israel and Gaza. While the recent temporary pause and release of some hostages and detainees is a step in the right direction and we celebrate their return to their families, it is neither adequate nor sufficient to address the current humanitarian and political crisis. There is no military solution to the current conflict, and further violence will continue to erode the safety and security of Palestinians and Israelis. Only a negotiated ceasefire can pave the way to addressing the current humanitarian crisis, the release of all hostages, and a long-term solution to this conflict.” said Cavan Kharrazian, Foreign Policy Advisor at Demand Progress.
“It’s inspiring to see the groundswell of support across the United States for an immediate ceasefire to end Israel’s reckless military campaign and the total blockade of Gaza. It’s critical that lawmakers listen to their constituents who are calling for an end to the explosion of violence that has already led to the deaths of 14,800 civilians, including over 6,000 children. Every major humanitarian organization working in Gaza is pleading with the international community to reach an immediate ceasefire and open up aid access so they can continue their vital work in the Gaza Strip. It’s critical that Congress and the Administration listen to these voices, and the vast majority of U.S. citizens, who want an end to this nightmare before more innocent lives are lost,” said Hassan El-Tayyab, legislative director for Middle East policy at Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL).
“MoveOn members and Americans across the country have been clear that they support a de-escalation and ceasefire to end the violence in Israel and Palestine. We must end collective punishment, return those taken hostage or wrongfully imprisoned, and let in humanitarian aid. The current pause is a good step toward what is needed: a permanent ceasefire. Civilians are being killed at what is being described a ‘historic pace,’ the majority women and children. The loss of life is devastating. MoveOn members have long advocated for nonmilitary, peaceful outcomes and are pushing President Biden and Congress to prioritize respect and dignity for human life above all else. We must—and will—continue the pressure to stop all further loss of human life,” said Rahna Epting, Executive Director of MoveOn.
The petitions come as recent polls have found that 70% of people ages 18-34 and nearly half of Democrats disapprove of President Biden’s handling of the recent escalation of violence. They garnered nearly one million signatures from people across all 50 states who joined the organizations’ calls for President Biden to help immediately de-escalate the violence and stop all loss of life in Israel and Gaza. The petitions were also delivered to members of Congress on November 16.
“We heard nearby explosions. I rushed to assist, only to discover it was my own family. Witnessing their extraction was heartbreaking. Some lost their lives, while others were wounded. They started pulling out dead children from under the rubble in front of me,” said a practicing nurse volunteering in a hospital in the Gaza Strip, whose name is being protected for anonymity. “As a practicing nurse, I decided to volunteer at Al Aqsa Hospital…This is the hardest war Gaza has ever experienced. It’s the first I witnessed such injuries: amputations, burns, unprecedented in its severity. Dealing with 60 to 70 people simultaneously in an emergency room designed for 13 or 14 beds poses a challenge. We have no choice but to treat some on the floor.” Download and listen to the voice note here.
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning global movement of more than 10 million people who campaign for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.
Avaaz is a global movement uniting nearly 70 million members across nations, harnessing the potential of online connectivity to galvanize collective action, and amplifying individual voices into a potent collective force during pivotal moments, effectively addressing pressing global challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss, land degradation, human rights, and the encroachments on democratic principles.
Demand Progress works to secure progressive policy changes for everyday people by organizing broad grassroots campaigns, leading smart lobbying initiatives, and leveraging our staff’s policy expertise.
The Friends Committee on National Legislation is a national, nonpartisan Quaker organization that lobbies Congress and the administration to advance peace, justice, and environmental stewardship. Follow our work at FCNL.org
MoveOn is a people-powered force for progress. MoveOn mobilizes the left to enact progressive change. We are the home base for millions of members who refuse to accept the status quo and are moved to take action. For more than a generation, MoveOn has been a bulwark against the radical right, channeling our voices to end wars, protect democracy, and advance justice for all.
Oxfam is a global organization that fights inequality to end poverty and injustice. We offer lifesaving support in times of crisis and advocate for economic justice, gender equality, and climate action. We demand equal rights and equal treatment so that everyone can thrive, not just survive. The future is equal. Join us at oxfamamerica.org.