The NAACP has joined growing calls for political leaders to demand an end to the violence in the Middle East as the Israel-Hamas war rages in the Gaza Strip.
Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the 114-year-old organization, said in a statement this week that the violence overseas has ripple effects across the entire world.
“We know that hate anywhere is a threat to safety everywhere. Black America has, and will continue to stand in solidarity with the communities grieving innumerable loss, both in the Middle East and right here in the United States,” Johnson said.
Since the initial Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel that prompted Israel’s declaration of war, more than 1.5 million residents in Gaza have been internally displaced. And more than 11,200 Palestinians have died since the fighting began, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry. More than 1,200 people in Israel were killed in the Oct. 7 terrorist attack, and 240 hostages were taken from Israel into Gaza by Palestinian militants, according to The Associated Press. Only five have been freed so far.
As the violence continues to unfold overseas, there is also a rising threat in the United States, Biden administration Homeland Security officials told lawmakers Wednesday.
“Hamas’s attack on Israel, along with other recent events, have sharpened the focus of potential attacks on targeted individuals and institutions perceived as symbolic of or tied to the conflict,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said.
“Our top concern stems from lone offenders inspired by — or reacting to — the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, as they pose the most likely threat to Americans, especially Jewish, Muslim, and Arab American communities in the United States,” FBI Director Christopher Wray added.
In his statement, Johnson said the violence must stop.
“The NAACP urges our global leaders to reach an agreement that respects all people's right to peace and security,” he said. “We will not stop fighting for a world where we are all able to live free from the evils of hatred and violence.”
Johnson’s statement comes at a time when some leaders and voters alike have been demanding the U.S. call for a cease-fire.
Democrats like Reps. Cori Bush (Mo.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) and Jamaal Bowman (N.Y.), among others, introduced the Ceasefire Now resolution last month. Protests have erupted in Washington, D.C., and around the country as voters demand President Biden join in the calls for the violence to end.
Biden has not joined demands for a cease-fire, though this week more than 400 employees of his administration signed an open letter demanding he join the calls.
He has instead backed humanitarian pauses, a more limited suspension of fighting in certain places to allow for humanitarian aid to enter and civilians to exit.
Biden has also warned that longer term Israeli occupation would be a "mistake," while largely supporting its military operations aimed at taking out Hamas.
He told reporters Wednesday it was "not realistic" to expect Israel to stop its military actions, given the ongoing threat posed by Hamas.
This story was updated at 3:08 p.m.