InterAction Member CEOs Send Public Letter to President Biden to Address Crisis in Gaza

Palestinians inspect the damage following an Israeli airstrike on the El-Remal aera in Gaza City on October 9, 2023. Israel continued to battle Hamas fighters on October 10 and massed tens of thousands of troops and heavy armour around the Gaza Strip after vowing a massive blow over the Palestinian militants' surprise attack. Photo by Naaman Omar apaimages

InterAction Member CEOs Send Public Letter to President Biden to Address Crisis in Gaza

InterAction and 50 Member CEOs, some of whom have organizations that work in Gaza, urge President Biden to take decisive and actionable steps to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Detailed within this letter are specific steps and commitments that can save numerous civilian lives and alleviate the suffering of Palestinians on the brink of famine.

Dear President Biden,

In your recent conversations with Prime Minister Netanyahu, you called for “specific, concrete, and measurable steps to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering, and the safety of aid workers” in response to Israel’s attacks resulting in the deaths of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers in Gaza. Since then, Israel has made a series of commitments, some of which, if fully implemented, could have a positive impact on the humanitarian situation in Gaza. However, we need to see concrete changes on the ground to address the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.

For the past six months, the NGO community, which includes numerous USG-funded organizations actively engaged on the ground in Gaza, has been tirelessly advocating for the fundamentals required to deliver principled humanitarian aid. Despite receiving repeated assurances to the contrary, the Government of Israel’s policies have brought 1.1 million people into famine conditions and created impossible conditions for a scaled humanitarian response. We are horrified by the level of suffering and loss of life that we—and our teams—witness and experience on a daily basis in Gaza.

In order to translate your words into action, we seek the following concrete steps.

Civilians Must Be Protected, Aid Workers Are Not a Target

  • We call for an immediate and lasting ceasefire. Some NGOs have been forced to halt operations due to the deliberate targeting of their staff and infrastructure and the mounting danger involved in delivering aid. The Israeli forces’ conduct of hostilities over the past six months has categorically failed to protect civilians, civilian objects, humanitarian personnel, and relief items in line with their obligations. Only with an end to the hostilities can humanitarian organizations meaningfully alleviate the extreme suffering and prevent the worst consequences of the famine taking hold.
  • Civilians must be protected at all times and regardless of where they are sheltering. We call for strict adherence to International Humanitarian Law, including demonstrable efforts to minimize civilian casualties. Every aid worker death and major civilian casualty incident should be publicly denounced as unacceptable.
  • We emphasize the need to capitalize on progress made in negotiations to secure the release of all hostages by conflict parties as soon as possible.

Full and Principled Humanitarian Access Must Be Granted, Unimpeded, and Safe

  • The Israeli government is required to facilitate humanitarian aid if it is unwilling or unable to provide for the population under its control. While we welcome Israel’s commitment to open the Erez crossing and the port of Ashdod and increase aid deliveries from Jordan, even if they are fulfilled, this would not be sufficient to provide the assistance needed into Gaza. Aid delivery should be streamlined, ensuring that UN and NGO personnel and supplies can enter without encountering bureaucratic obstacles, insecurity, and arbitrary delays. 
  • Access to humanitarian aid should not be restricted to specific crossings or locations but should be facilitated through all safe available means to ensure that assistance reaches those in need without delay or obstruction. This should also include the restoration of normal commercial and private-sector imports and communications infrastructure.
  • Public services must be restored. We welcome the Government of Israel’s announcement to restore particular water lines, though we are concerned that the inability to repair damage from earlier bombardment will limit the value of these efforts. Israeli authorities should fully restore all access to water and electricity within its control.
  • Famine response must be prioritized. Famine declarations are retroactive, and by the time a declaration is made, famine is often well underway. There may indeed be a famine in Gaza with the IPC Famine Review Committee projecting its arrival as early as March. The IPC reported that as many as 1.1 million Palestinians are experiencing famine conditions now including child mortality rates rising at famine-level rates. Responding to famine requires a robust effort to deliver humanitarian aid and specialized services which go farther than increasing the volume of food. An intensification of the hostilities in Gaza, particularly in Rafah, will render famine response impossible.

Rafah Offensive Must Be Prevented

  • We call for an immediate halt to any escalation of military operations in Rafah. As you have rightly stated to the Israeli Prime Minister, we believe that a commitment backed by visible action of Israeli forces not to invade Rafah is necessary to ensure the safety and well-being of the more than one million people sheltering there. This includes many of our organizations’ humanitarian aid workers. It is our assessment that if an offensive occurs and the aid architecture collapses across the Gaza Strip, there is no credible or executable humanitarian plan to prevent a famine affecting hundreds of thousands of people. Further, Rafah is the center of the emergency humanitarian response structure within Gaza, a primary location for warehouses, offices, distribution centers, and the procurement pipeline; relocating operations is impractical.

Many of these requests are not new. The U.S. Government must utilize all available leverage, including withholding offensive security and military assistance, to promptly secure an immediate and lasting ceasefire, ensure the protection of aid workers and civilians, including the release of all hostages, and to allow unrestricted humanitarian access.



Operational organizations in Gaza:

  • Sean C. Carroll, President & CEO, Anera
  • Michelle Nunn, President & CEO, CARE USA 
  • Sean Callahan, President & CEO, Catholic Relief Services 
  • Lisa Hilmi, Executive Director, CORE Group
  • Fraser Mooney, Executive Director, Doctors of the World USA
  • Robert W. Radtke, President & CEO, Episcopal Relief & Development
  • Carrie Hessler-Radelet, President & CEO, Global Communities 
  • Manuel Patrouillard, CEO, Handicap International/Humanity and Inclusion
  • David Miliband, President & CEO, International Rescue Committee
  • Ahmed Shehata, CEO, Islamic Relief USA
  • Hany Saqr, CEO, Life for Relief and Development
  • Zaher Sahloul, President, MedGlobal 
  • Ann Graber Hershberger, Executive Director, Mennonite Central Committee U.S.
  • Tjada D’Oyen McKenna, CEO, Mercy Corps 
  • Umar al-Qadi, President & CEO, Mercy-USA for Aid and Development
  • Arif Mehmood, President & CEO, Muslim Response USA for Relief and Development
  • Bernice G Romero, Executive Director, Norwegian Refugee Council USA 
  • Abby Maxman, President & CEO, Oxfam America
  • Douglas Jackson, President & CEO, Project C.U.R.E
  • Rabih Torbay, President & CEO, Project HOPE
  • Craig Redmond, CEO, Relief International 
  • Janti Soeripto, President & CEO, Save the Children US
  • David Lillie, Executive Director, Syrian American Medical Society
  • Daniel Valle, Executive Office, Tearfund USA
  • Abed Ayoub, CEO, United Mission for Relief and Development 
  • Carol Bremer-Bennett, Executive Director, World Renew


Additional organizations supporting these asks: 

  • Tom Hart, President & CEO, InterAction
  • Peter Sage, Executive Director, AMURT
  • Mohamed Idris,  Executive Director, ARAHA
  • Amy Coughenour Betancourt, President & CEO, Cadasta Foundation 
  • Isam Ghanim, President & CEO, ChildFund International 
  • Richard L. Santos, President & CEO, Church World Service 
  • Osman Dulgeroglu, CEO, Embrace Relief 
  • Tessie San Martin, CEO, FHI360
  • Elisha Dunn-Georgiou, President & CEO, Global Health Council 
  • Siobhan Walsh, CEO, GOAL
  • Jonathan Reckford, CEO, Habitat for Humanity International
  • Javaid Siddiqi, President & CEO, Helping Hand for Relief and Development
  • William Barron, CEO, iMMAP Inc. 
  • Msgr. Robert J. Vitillo, Secretary General, International Catholic Migration Commission
  • Maqsoda Maqsodi, President &CEO, IntraHealth International
  • James Morgan, CEO, Physicians for Peace
  • Shanna Marzilli, President & CEO, Plan International USA
  • Fred Olsson, CEO, Planet Aid 
  • Bob Gillespie, President, Population Communication
  • Caitlyn Hughes, Executive Director, Solar Cookers International
  • Jeremy Konyndyk, President, Refugees International 
  • Atif Javed, Executive Director, Tarjimly
  • Eskinder Negash, President & CEO,  U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
  • Elizabeth McGovern, Executive Director, WEEMA International