Open call for an immediate physical and digital ceasefire in Gaza, and for Palestinians globally

October 20, 2023

MENA Rights Group joins 80+ civil society organisations in calling for an immediate physical and digital ceasefire in Gaza in the context of the escalating conflict and humanitarian crisis.

Palestinians search a house after an Israeli air strike, in the city of Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip, on October 12 2023. © Anas-Mohammed, licensed under Shutterstock.

We, the undersigned digital and human rights organisations, join the open call for an immediate ceasefire to end the ongoing bloodshed in Gaza, to halt a humanitarian catastrophe, and to prevent further loss of innocent lives in Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, and beyond. We further call on governments, international institutions, tech companies, and other international stakeholders to take responsibility for their actions which have enabled and abetted Israel’s unrestrained and indiscriminate attacks on civilians in Gaza, and to now take the necessary steps to help achieve an immediate ceasefire and more lasting peace. This includes upholding a "digital ceasefire" to bring an immediate end to online attacks targeting Palestinians around the world. 

More than 4,200 people are reported killed and thousands more injured, missing, or trapped beneath rubble. A further 1.1 million Palestinians have been ordered by the Israeli military to evacuate from northern Gaza with no safe shelters which, according to the UN, would amount to a forcible transfer of civilians — a crime against humanity. The ongoing atrocities, including the repeated attacks against health facilities and personnel, have led to unfathomable destruction, trauma, and loss of civilian life. This continuous escalation of violence comes on top of an illegal and inhumane blockade on Gaza depriving millions of people of basic needs, including food, water, medicine, and electricity.

The people of Gaza — who have lived under military occupation,and injustice for 56 years in what is now understood as a system of apartheid — are also experiencing a near-complete communications blackout. Information has become scarce and capacity to document atrocities perpetrated on the ground is severely hindered. The disruption of internet access and targeting of telecommunications infrastructure is helping fuel the dissemination of disinformation campaigns and war propaganda on social media platforms and across mainstream media, as it becomes harder to access and verify first-hand information or conduct independent investigations into atrocities committed on the ground.

Globally, Palestinian voices and those who support their cause have been muffled and silenced through a wide campaign of digital repression, including disinformation, censorship, online harassment, doxxing, and shadowbanning. Governments who regularly call for strong protection of human rights are emboldening Israel’s indiscriminate attacks by cracking down on free expression and peaceful assembly, online and offline. Likewise, social media companies have so far failed to address the alarming levels of disinformation and misinformation on their platforms, which are contributing to offline violence, dehumanisation, and justifying attacks against civilians. Paired with inequitable, biased over-enforcement of content moderation policies, this is resulting in the silencing and deplatforming of Palestinians.

Further to the humanitarian blockade enforced by Israel on the ground, the flow of humanitarian aid has also been disrupted due to targeted cyberattacks affecting relief groups, including Medical Aid for Palestine (MAP). Websites, news agencies, and collectives providing resources and coverage have faced periodic DDoS attacks, causing their websites to go down. Meanwhile, Israel’s attorney general has approved shutting down Al Jazeera’s office, one of the few international media outlets with correspondents on the ground providing 24/7 live coverage from Gaza, further hindering press freedom and access to information in Gaza.

Despite these barriers, human rights defenders and journalists have documented evidence of multiple international humanitarian law violations since the start of this phase of the conflict, both by Hamas in its October 7 attacks on civilians in Israel and by Israeli authorities in the course of their ongoing military offensive in Gaza. Such violations include Israel's use of white phosphorus ammunition in densely populated areas, which can be considered an unlawful indiscriminate attack on civilians; the targeting of journalists, with at least 21 killed since the start of the war; and the blocking of aid from reaching Gaza. Civilian medical facilities have also repeatedly come under attack, with 51 attacks against healthcare facilities resulting in 15 health workers killed and 27 injured, including the recent explosion at the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital on Tuesday, October 17.

The international community has an obligation to ensure an immediate ceasefire comes into effect. An end to the continued loss of life must be the utmost priority, and governments, companies, and other stakeholders alike must each uphold their duty to respect and protect human rights by joining the call to end hostilities. 

All parties to the conflict must:

  • Immediately cease the indiscriminate targeting of civilian infrastructure, including medical, energy, and telecommunications infrastructure, and, more broadly, halt the use of explosive weapons in urban areas; 
  • Take all feasible precautions to protect civilians and refrain from indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks;
  • Protect the physical and digital safety, dignity, and integrity of anyone deprived of liberty and under their control –including protection from public curiosity on social media and other communication channels– and refrain from using disinformation campaigns;
  • Ensure that all persons deprived of liberty without due process are allowed to return safely to their families – including through the assistance of neutral intermediaries such as the ICRC, who have been offering their support through traditional channels and publicly on social media; and
  • Uphold and demonstrate through actions their adherence to international humanitarian law.

In particular, Israeli authorities must:

  • Immediately and unconditionally allow free, unhindered, and safe humanitarian access to Gaza and its population and facilitate the delivery of lifesaving assistance. This includes restoring freedom of movement for individuals and goods in besieged areas, as well as the electricity and water supply – noting, however, that the restoration of access to these services is necessary but insufficient, and does not supercede the call for a total and immediate ceasefire; 
  • Ensure that the civilian population has access to free, reliable, stable, open, and secure telecommunications infrastructure, enabling them to receive early warnings, communicate with humanitarian services and their loved ones, and otherwise exercise their fundamental human rights;
  • Ensure the protection of health providers, humanitarian personnel, journalists, and other specially protected actors. This also includes addressing the spread of coordinated disinformation campaigns that undermine the neutrality of their work and increase their vulnerability;
  • Rescind orders for civilians to evacuate northern Gaza; and
  • End its illegal blockade of the Gaza Strip and its ongoing military occupation of the Palestinian territories. 

Private sector actors must:

  • Adhere and uphold their responsibilities to respect human rights and mitigate any risks or negative impacts of their policies, actions, and services, as per the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and publicly and consistently communicate steps taken to ensure continued respect for human rights; 
  • Expand and include in their heightened due diligence efforts all potential areas of their business, including, for example, reviewing customers’ purchasing of targeted advertising services in the region and elsewhere for propaganda purposes;
  • Take measures to further protect the accounts and data of users from hacking, surveillance, censorship, and other threats, and to strengthen infrastructure against unlawful access;
  • Ensure complete transparency of received government requests — both on the basis of the law or the terms and conditions — submitted by the Israeli public authorities, including the Cyber Unit. At a minimum, disclose the type of content enforcement; and data regarding the amount of content removed in Arabic, and compliance rate with government requests, including legal basis for restrictions; 
  • Clearly communicate to users any limitations, restrictions, or changes to service they may experience;
  • Provide transparency with respect to where machine learning systems are being used to moderate content related to Palestine and Israel, including indicators of the accuracy, the possible rate of error, and machine learning classifiers;
  • Provide information about parameters used by content recommender systems with explanations for why certain information is shown to individuals, including the most important criteria for determining what information will be shown to whom; 
  • Fully investigate any cyber attacks that undermine human rights, and limit the reach of state and non-state sponsored propaganda actors and the spread of disinformation with any restriction being in compliance with the rule of law and the principles legality, legitimacy, necessity, and proportionality;
  • Preserve and be prepared to openly share, where possible, documentation of violence, for potential future efforts to hold people accountable for violating humanitarian law and human rights violations and ensure victims’ access to remedy; and
  • For investors and financial institutions linked to businesses operating in the region, hold these businesses accountable for full transparency on their business conduct and the above requirements. 

Global leaders must:



  1. 7amleh - The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media
  2. Access Now
  3. Accountability Counsel
  4. Advocacy for Principled Action in Government
  5. AlgoRace
  6. ALQST
  7. Alternatif Bilisim (AIA-Alternative Informatics Association)
  8. Alternative Press Syndicate - Lebanon
  9. Annir Initiative
  10. Arab Center for Cyberspace Research.ACCR
  11. Asociación Conexión Segura y Libre
  12. Aspiration
  13. Association Droits, Justice et Accueil des Migrants d’Afrique et d’Ailleurs (DJAMAA)
  14. Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE)
  15. Bloggers of Zambia (BloggersZM)
  16. Business and Human Rights Resource Centre 
  17. Barracón Digital
  18. CARD Ethiopia
  19. Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD)
  20. Centre for Peace Studies, Croatia
  22. Coding Rights
  23. Common Cause Zambia
  24., Digital Resilience Lab
  25. Convocation Research + Design
  26. Código Sur
  27. DAIR (Distributed AI Research Institute)
  28. DIG/SEC Initiative
  29. Digital Rights Foundation (DRF)
  30. Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)
  31. Equinox Initiative for Racial Justice
  32. Eurasian Digital Foundation
  33. European Legal Support Center (ELSC)
  34. European Network of People of African descent (ENPAD)
  35. European Sex Workers Rights Alliance (ESWA)
  36. FairSquare
  37. Fight for the Future
  38. Foundation for Media Alternatives
  39. Fundacion
  40. Fundacion Karisma
  41. Global Voices
  42. Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
  43. Hand in Hand Against Racism
  44. Hijas de Internet
  45. INSM Foundation for Digital Rights
  46. INSPIRIT Creatives NGO
  47. International Network of Liberal Women (INLW)
  48. International Press Centre (IPC)
  49. International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)
  50. Intersection Association for Rights and Freedoms – Tunisia
  51. Jordan Open Source Association (JOSA)
  52. Kandoo
  53. KISA - Action for Equality, Support, Antiracism (Cyprus)
  54. Tecnologías Comunitarias
  55. Libya Crimes Watch (LCW)
  56. Libyan American Alliance
  57. Lucy Parsons Labs
  59. Masaar-Technology and Law Community
  60. May First Movement Technology
  61. MENA Rights Group
  62. Next Billion Network
  63. NOVACT Institute for Nonviolence
  64. Nubian Rights Forum
  65. Numun Fund
  66. Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI)
  67. Purposeful
  68. Red Line for Gulf
  69. Refugee Wellbeing & Integration Initiative, Netherlands
  70. RosKomSvoboda
  71. SMEX
  72. Solidarité Laïque Méditerranée
  73. SUDS - Associació Internacional de Solidaritat i Cooperació
  74. Sukaar Welfare Organization
  75. Sukuamis | Saberes y Sanacion 
  76. Sursiendo
  77. Statewatch
  78. Surveillance Resistance Lab
  79. The Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression (SCM)
  80. Taiwan Association for Human Rights (TAHR)
  81. Taraaz
  82. Techies for Reproductive Justice
  83. The Tor Project
  84. Transgress Digital Collective
  85. Tunisian United Network
  86. Waterford Integration Services, IRELAND

Individuals (organizational affiliation for identification purposes only)

  1. Adam Shapiro, DAWN
  2. Adel Abdel-Sadek, Writer and CEO of ACCR
  3. Ahmed Galai, human rights activist, Tunisia
  4. Alex Argüelles, technologist
  5. Amanda Bennett, IT & cybersecurity professional
  6. Ana Elvira García López, Coordinator of the Circle U.Think and Do Tank on the Future of Higher Education, Master MiM alumni
  7. Apirak Nanthaseree, Lawyer, Rising Sun Law
  8. Arpita Appannagari, reproductive freedom advocate
  9. Asli Telli, Digital Rights Researcher and Activist
  10. Azamaare S., Technologist and community organizer
  11. Chatmanee Taisonthi, Lawyer, Rising Sun Law
  12. Cyrus Sayah
  13. Dalia Impiglia, master student, Global Campus of Human Rights
  14. Dr. Mirjam Twigt
  15. Ekaterine Kolesnikova, Master MiM alumni
  16. Hajira Maryam, Media Manager, journalist
  17. Jillian C. York, writer
  18. Judith Membrives i Llorens, Digital Rights Activist - Algorights
  19. Kinan Alajak, Director, Refugee Wellbeing and Integration Initiative / Assistant researcher, Utrecht University
  20. Koen Leurs, associate professor, Utrecht University
  21. Lassane Ouedraogo, Former Chairperson & Board of Directors, Africa Solidarity Centre Ireland
  22. Lena Richter, Master MiM alumni; PhD researcher
  23. Luca Stevenson, ESWAdR
  24. Luke Olynyk, human rights advocate
  25. Matt Mahmoudi, Affiliate Lecturer, University of Cambridge
  26. Meera Ghani, human rights defender
  27. Mher Hakobyan, human rights advocate
  28. Nada Baher, Master MiM alumni
  29. Nicole Lopez, Director of Technology, reproductive freedom organizer
  30. Nissaf Slama, human rights activist
  31. Novita Pratiwi, workers
  32. Øyvind Hanssen, board member, EFN
  33. Raphael Tsavkko Garcia, Journalist
  34. Rebecca Ballard, ESG
  35. Rebecca Williams, ACLU
  36. Safiya Umoja Noble, Author, Algorithms of Oppression 
  37. Saloua Abdou Elaniou, Master MiM Alumni
  38. Sofia Enault, Master MiM alumni
  39. Tuuli Sauren, Art Director, Humanrights activist
  40. Vladimir Cortés, master student, Global Campus of Human Rights
  41. Yigit Aydin, ESWA

Latest News