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Open Society Foundations Reiterate Call for Humanitarian Ceasefire

NEW YORK—The war between Hamas and the Government of Israel has reached a horrific milestone, with the UN reporting that over 10,000 people have been killed in Gaza.

November 7 marks a month since Hamas killed more than 1,400 Israelis; murdering families in their homes, taking over 200 hostages, displacing tens of thousands, and continuing to fire rockets. While the Israeli government has a duty to protect its citizens, the scale and indiscriminate nature of its retaliatory response is alarming.

UN agencies report that two-thirds of those killed in the Gaza Strip are women and children. More children were killed in the first few weeks of this crisis than are killed in armed conflicts globally over the course of a year, according to Save the Children.

The entire population of Gaza—2.2 million—is at risk as food, water, fuel, and medicine are critically low. There appear to be no safe zones, despite the Israeli government’s repeated insistence that they exist. Civilian infrastructure has been repeatedly bombed.

There is a growing chorus of credible voices warning of violations of international humanitarian law; alleged war crimes, including forced displacement; and the risk of mass atrocities, including ethnic cleansing.

The international community needs to double down on efforts to obtain a cessation of hostilities. We cannot waste any more time debating what word to use. Governments across the world have joined the heads of UN agencies and thousands of NGOs in calling for a humanitarian ceasefire. The arguments against such a ceasefire are now outweighed by the sheer scale of loss of life.

There must be a humanitarian ceasefire to allow for immediate, large-scale assistance to Gaza and secure the release of all remaining hostages, as well as work to de-escalate mounting tensions across Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the wider region. 

The Open Society Foundations have worked in the region since 1999, with a focus on the rights of minorities in Israel, the rights of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, and efforts toward reaching a peaceful solution.

Even in the context of this long-running conflict, the current crisis is horrific. Our grantees—in Israel and Palestine—have been directly impacted and we are actively supporting them and their ability to continue working on human rights and peacebuilding. We have also supported their efforts, and those of international organizations, to advocate for a humanitarian ceasefire, for the provision of aid, and for adherence to international humanitarian law.

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