President Joe Biden was interrupted by protesters demanding a cease-fire in Gaza while giving a campaign speech in South Carolina on Monday and as the war between Israel and Hamas enters its fourth month.
Biden was speaking at Mother Emanuel, the historic Black church in Charleston where nine people were killed in a racially motivated shooting in 2015, when he was interrupted while discussing how truth, freedom and democracy are under assault in America.
“If you really care about the lives lost here then you should honor the lives lost and call for a cease-fire in Palestine,” a woman cried out. The interruption led to chants of “cease-fire now.”
The demonstrators were led out of the room while those remaining broke out in a standing chant of “four more years!”
Biden then acknowledged the demonstrators.
“I understand their passion and I have been quietly working with the Israeli government to get them to reduce and significantly get out of Gaza and using all that I can to do that,” he said.
“You’re an understanding person,” another woman in attendance called out to him. “They don’t realize that. You’re a good man.”
The U.S. has been under increasing pressure to do more to protect civilian life and help facilitate humanitarian aid in Gaza as Israel continues to bombard the region in response to Hamas’ initial Oct. 7 attack.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in the Middle East on Monday to discuss the humanitarian situation in Gaza, how Israel may agree to work toward establishing a Palestinian state, and ways to prevent the violence from spreading geographically, The Washington Post reported.
His arrival followed the Israeli military on Sunday warning of “another war” with Hezbollah after the Lebanese militant group struck an air traffic control base in northern Israel.
Blinken plans to head to Israel on Monday night.
The World Health Organization’s director on Sunday was among those calling for the bloodshed in Gaza to end while describing “sickening” sights that its agency and the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs have seen while touring the region’s surviving hospitals.
At the Al-Aqsa Hospital in the Middle Area of Gaza, WHO’s staff saw “people of all ages being treated on blood-streaked floors and in chaotic corridors. An unidentified child laid dead, partially covered by a sheet, on a bed. Other injured were prostrate on the floor, being stepped over by the health staff and families,” said WHO Director Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a statement posted to X, formerly known as Twitter.
More than 600 patients have been forced to flee the hospital, which had only five doctors remaining to treat patients as of Sunday night, Tedros said.
“Al-Aqsa is the most important hospital remaining in Gaza’s Middle Area and must remain functional, and protected, to deliver its lifesaving services,” he said. “Further erosion of its functionality cannot be permitted — doing so in the face of such trauma, injury and humanitarian suffering would be a moral and medical outrage.”
Doctors Without Borders was among the medical aid groups recently forced to evacuate the hospital due to the extreme dangers that its staff has been placed under, including a bullet on Friday penetrating the hospital’s intensive care unit, the organization said.
“No one and nowhere is safe in Gaza,” the humanitarian aid group said in a statement Saturday, which stressed that Israel is required under international law to protect patients and staff.