Multiple protesters calling for a cease-fire in Gaza repeatedly interrupted Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s testimony Tuesday at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, as police dragged them out of the room one by one.
Each time one protester was escorted out of the hearing by police, Blinken would resume his testimony, only to be interrupted by another protester.
Cable news networks carried several of the interruptions live, showcasing the deep divide on the left over the Biden administration’s backing of Israel’s offensive on Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas.
Hamas launched an Oct. 7 attack on Israel that killed 1,400 people. Israel in response launched aerial attacks on Gaza, following that with a ground offensive that has seen troops enter Gaza over the weekend. The Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza has said 8,000 people have been killed from the counterattacks.
Other protesters held red-stained hands in the air, arguing the administration had blood on its hands for its support of Israel.
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Citing the Geneva Convention protocol prohibiting the bombing of areas densely populated with civilians, the first protester taken from the hearing on President Biden’s national security supplemental request called for the United States to “stop supporting the genocide and ethnic cleansing of the people of Gaza.”
“Cease-fire now! Save the children of Gaza! Save the children of Gaza! Cease-fire now! Where is your pride, American?” he yelled before being forced from the room.
Committee Chair Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) then addressed the room, calling for order.
“I do recognize that people feel very passionately, but I ask that we have order in their hearing room and respect our speakers,” she said. “We will move forward with the hearing and allow the people here and the American people to hear from their witnesses.”
Shortly thereafter, another protester stood with a sign, also calling for a cease-fire.
“The world is calling for a cease-fire!” the protester yelled. “The American people don’t want to support this brutal war. Stop the war. Cease-fire now. Stop funding this brutal massacre that Israel is doing on the people of Gaza. Cease-fire now! Cease-fire now! Cease-fire now!”
Three more individuals then stood one after the other, interrupting testimony each time before a collective group of the protesters stood and chanted for a cease-fire.
Many people also raised their hands in the air while remaining seated, an apparent workaround to the ban on standing and protesting the hearing.
Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are both testifying at the hearing on the budget request, which includes money for Israel and Ukraine.
Blinken later addressed the protesters, saying that he could “hear, very much, the passions expressed in this room and outside this room.”
“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,” he said. “But all of us know the imperative of standing up with our allies and partners when their security, when their democracies are threatened. That’s what happening now. We stand resolutely with them even as we stand resolutely for the protection of innocent civilians.”
Capitol Police later told The Hill that 12 protesters were arrested during the hearing on the charge of crowding, obstructing or incommoding.