Protesters calling for a ceasefire in Gaza repeatedly interrupted Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Tuesday. The protesters derailed proceedings at least five times, staggering their interjections throughout his opening statement.
“Blinken, you have blood on your hands! Murderer!” one protester yelled amid calls for a ceasefire from others in the room. “From Palestine to Mexico all the walls have got to go,” the demonstrators chanted.
Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin appeared before the Appropriations Committee to discuss the Biden administration’s $105 billion national security funding request, which includes aid for both Israel and Ukraine. Blinken addressed the interruptions during his remarks to the committee.
“I also hear, very much, the passions expressed in this room and outside this room,” Blinken said in response. “All of us are committed to the protection of civilian life. All of us know the suffering that is taking place as we speak. All of us are determined to see it end.”
“But all of us also know the imperative of standing up with our allies and partners when their security, when their democracies are threatened. That’s what’s happening now,” he added.
In the aftermath of the October 7 terrorist attacks against Israel by Hamas militants, U.S. government officials quickly moved to back the Israeli government. As Israeli forces have besieged the Gaza Strip, home to more than two million Palestinians, the civilian death toll and unfolding humanitarian disaster has motivated calls for de-escalation.
Protests opposing Israel’s aggression have broken out around the world. Earlier this month, demonstrators organized by Jewish Voice for Peace and If Not Now, two Jewish activist groups opposed to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, staged a sit-in inside the rotunda of the Cannon House office building. Hundreds were arrested. A large protest is expected to take place in Washington, D.C., on Saturday.
Last week, during a meeting on the United Nations Security Council, Blinken reaffirmed the United States’ support for Israel but cautioned that it “must take all possible precautions to avoid harm to civilians. It means food, medicine, and water, and other assistance, must flow into Gaza and to the areas people need them. It means civilians must be able to get out of harm’s way. It means humanitarian pauses must be considered for these purposes.”