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As a feminist and women-led organization, Vital Voices Global Partnership calls for an immediate end to the offensive in Rafah and reiterates its demand for an immediate ceasefire to protect civilians. Earlier this month, President Biden stated that the U.S. would oppose a large-scale Israeli military operation in Rafah without a credible plan to protect Palestinian civilians. Despite this, Israeli military operations have forced almost a million civilians to flee and have largely collapsed humanitarian relief efforts in Rafah and across the Gaza Strip.  

On the night of May 26th, Israel intensified its military operation in western Rafah, southern Gaza, targeting densely populated areas with tents for internally displaced people (IDPs). Shelters meant to be safe havens for innocent civilians became targets of brutal violence, resulting in the deaths of 45 people sheltering in plastic tents. This attack came just days after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to cease its operations in Rafah, the last major settlement in Gaza not yet invaded by the Israeli military. The ongoing military invasion must be halted immediately to guarantee unimpeded humanitarian relief. In Rafah, about 700,000 women and girls are residing with a huge risk of death and worsening conditions due to the Israeli military ground invasion as they have no place to escape the violence. This conflict has left over 10,000 women killed, including 6,000 mothers, leaving 19,000 children orphaned.  

Vital Voices calls for an immediate ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages, and accountability for the casualties of this conflict. We urge the creation of conditions that allow a full-scale humanitarian response commensurate with the needs of the civilian population, especially women and children who are particularly vulnerable. Our collective voice condemns the violence and stands united in seeking justice and peace, advocating for the protection and well-being of all impacted, especially women and girls, amidst the ongoing violence in Rafah.