In a rare move Thursday, the NAACP issued a call to the Biden-Harris administration to halt weapons shipments to Israel and to push for an immediate and permanent ceasefire. The 115-year-old civil rights organization also called for Hamas to return Israeli hostages and to “stop all terrorist activity”. The statement comes as the Biden campaign struggles to stir enthusiasm among Black voters.

One recent poll showed that only 33% of Black voters aged 18 to 40 said they would vote for Biden if the election were held today. Only 15% of Black voters thought Biden could handle Israel’s war in Gaza.

The lack of enthusiasm about Biden does not suggest an apolitical view, however, as more than 90% of Black voters indicated they had participated in political activities, including protesting, attending speeches or dinners and donating.

“The NAACP calls on President Biden to draw the red line and indefinitely end the shipment of weapons and artillery to the state of Israel and other states that supply weapons to Hamas and other terrorist organizations,” the statement reads. “It is imperative that the violence that has claimed so many civilian lives, immediately stop.”

Following the 26 May massacre at Rafah refugee camp, during which Israel launched airstrikes into a safe zone, killing 45 Palestinians and injuring more than 200, Israel has faced widespread condemnation. The attack came just days after the United Nations court ordered Israel to cease its military operations in Rafah.

Though the NAACP issued statements in support of students’ right to protest and condemned Hamas following the 7 October attack, it previously had not made any statements regarding a ceasefire. That changed Thursday afternoon.

“As the nation’s leading civil rights organization, it is our responsibility to speak out in the face of injustice and work to hold our elected officials accountable for the promises they’ve made,” the statement from the NAACP president and CEO, Derrick Johnson, reads. “Over the past months, we have been forced to bear witness to unspeakable violence, affecting innocent civilians, which is unacceptable.”

An estimated 36,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since 7 October, with another 500 killed in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. On 31 May, Biden detailed a three-phase deal that he said would see the release of the remaining hostages in Gaza and an end to the eight-month-long war.

“The most recent statement from the Biden administration is useful but does not go far enough,” Johnson wrote. “It is one thing to call for a ceasefire, it is another to take the measures necessary to work towards liberation for all … The latest proposal must clarify the consequences of continued violence.”

Biden has generally enjoyed a positive relationship with the NAACP. He called himself a “lifetime member of the NAACP” when he spoke at its annual dinner in Detroit last month. And on Tuesday, the organization invited the President and Harris to its national convention – which Biden has participated in consistently during his tenure.

But Johnson told Reuters that the organization was compelled to speak out because young Black Americans were “horrified” by images of dead Palestinians: “It’s raising a lot of questions around why our tax dollars are being used to harm civilians.”