Washington, DC, Mar. 23, 2024 — Today, CIVIC joined humanitarian organizations working in Gaza and other human rights and civilian protection organizations in supporting a formal submission as part of the US National Security Memorandum 20 process. “The humanitarian response in Gaza, including U.S. funded humanitarian assistance, has been consistently and arbitrarily denied, restricted, and impeded by the Israeli authorities,” the organizations wrote.

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Two million civilians in Gaza are suffering hunger, displacement, and risk of death on an unprecedented scale. Their appalling situation is the responsibility of all parties to the conflict. As humanitarian organizations working in Gaza we have repeatedly urged the use of all means available to relieve the suffering, in accord with the humanitarian principles of humanity, impartiality, neutrality and independence. But our ability to save lives is jeopardized by severe constraints on our operations.

Under a new policy directive from President Biden, National Security Memorandum 20, U.S. security partners must now provide written assurances that they will use U.S. security assistance in accordance with international law and facilitate humanitarian assistance. In the coming weeks, therefore, the U.S. government will assess these assurances from Israel.

As humanitarian organizations operating in Gaza, it is our experience that the humanitarian response in Gaza, including U.S. funded humanitarian assistance, has been consistently and arbitrarily denied, restricted, and impeded by the Israeli authorities. Bureaucratic constraints are preventing a humanitarian scale up, on top of the conduct of the conflict. These constraints include the continued closure of vital border crossings, including crossings into northern Gaza; rejections of aid items for entry based on arbitrary, opaque and shifting justifications, including definitions of dual use; lengthy delays and unpredictable processes for the inspection of trucks; and denial of movement requests within Gaza. In addition, there have been repeated attacks on aid workers, convoys, distributions and humanitarian sites, including those submitted to the Israeli authorities as part of the humanitarian notification (“deconfliction”) process.

Our organizations and partners have experienced these blockages of aid and attacks first hand, and they are costing Palestinian lives.

These findings are also supported by the additional organizations below, including human rights and civilian protection organizations.

Please consider this a formal submission as part of National Security Memorandum 20. Sufficient public information is available to the U.S. government that documents these constraints on humanitarian access and violations of international humanitarian law. Given the tempo of the conflict in Gaza, rapid deterioration in the humanitarian crisis, and impending famine, we urgently request that the U.S. government speed up its assessment timeline and demand full and unimpeded humanitarian access into and across Gaza, adherence to international humanitarian law, and an immediate and sustained ceasefire.

Signatories: 

  • Action Against Hunger
  • ActionAid International
  • American Friends Service Committee
  • Anera
  • CARE USA
  • Catholic Relief Services
  • Children in Conflict
  • Doctors Without Borders / MSF USA
  • The Episcopal Church
  • Humanity & Inclusion, U.S.
  • International Rescue Committee
  • Islamic Relief USA
  • Juzoor
  • MedGlobal
  • Mennonite Central Committee U.S.
  • Mercy Corps
  • Middle East Children’s Alliance
  • Oxfam America
  • Norwegian Refugee Council USA
  • Save the Children US
  • Syrian American Medical Society

Additional organizations supporting these findings:

  • Amnesty International USA
  • Arms Control Association
  • Avaaz
  • Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC)
  • Center for Victims of Torture
  • Friends Committee on National Legislation
  • Government Information Watch
  • InterAction
  • MPower Change
  • Peace Action
  • Refugees International
  • September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows
  • US Campaign for Palestinian Rights Action (USCPR Action)
  • Win Without War
  • Women for Weapons Trade Transparency
  • Zomia Center

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For additional information or media inquiries, please contact:

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