A US Senate hearing evaluating emergency aid requests for Israel and Ukraine has been repeatedly disrupted by protesters demanding a ceasefire in Gaza. The protests occurred as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken testified in support of President Joe Biden’s request for Congress to approve $106 billion in emergency security funding, including $14.3 billion for Israel and $61.4 billion for Ukraine. Each time Blinken was interrupted, he paused his testimony and remained composed, while protesters shouted, chanted, and held up signs before being removed by security officers.
One protester shouted at Blinken to “stop supporting the genocide and ethnic cleansing of the people of Palestine,” reflecting the sentiment of those demanding a ceasefire in Gaza. Another woman held up a sign demanding “no more money for Israel” and criticized the senators for not calling for a ceasefire. The disruptions continued as demonstrators showed red paint on their palms with the words “Free Gaza” written on their arms. They also chanted, “From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go.”
Amid the protests, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray called for order and urged respect for the speakers. Despite the interruptions, Blinken continued to advocate for the aid requests, emphasizing the importance of the funding for Israel and Ukraine in their conflicts with Hamas and Russia, respectively.
The protests coincided with calls from around the world, including Pope Francis and Amnesty International, for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the possibility of a pause, stating that it would be surrendering to terrorism and barbarism. Netanyahu claimed that Hamas initiated the war through its terrorist attacks and vowed that Israel would stand against the forces of barbarism until victory.
The conflict between Israel and Hamas has resulted in a high number of casualties, with more than 8,000 Palestinians and 1,400 Israelis killed since the escalation began. Supporters of a ceasefire have expressed concern over the civilian casualties, while families of hostages held by Hamas have argued that pausing the fighting would create an opportunity for negotiations. Netanyahu countered that the hostages can only be saved through Israel’s ground offensive, as Hamas refuses to release them unless faced with strong pressure.
Despite these calls and concerns, the Biden administration reaffirmed its opposition to a ceasefire, stating that it does not believe it is the right answer at this time. The administration’s stance further emphasizes the ongoing debate surrounding the conflict and the differing perspectives on how to address the situation.
In conclusion, the US Senate hearing on aid requests for Israel and Ukraine was repeatedly disrupted by protesters advocating for a ceasefire in Gaza. The demonstrations reflect the growing international calls for an end to the conflict, while Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu remains steadfast in his refusal to consider a pause. The Biden administration also aligns with Netanyahu’s position, expressing its opposition to a ceasefire. The ongoing protests and discussions highlight the urgency and complexity of the situation, as different stakeholders continue to debate the best path forward.