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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Protesters calling for Gaza cease-fire interrupt Biden speech

By Maggie Astor


Protesters interrupted President Joe Biden’s speech at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, on Monday, urging him to call for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.


“If you really care about the lives lost here, you should honor the lives lost and call for a cease-fire in Gaza,” one person shouted from the audience at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where a white supremacist killed nine people in 2015.


A group of protesters then began chanting, “Cease-fire now.”


As supporters of Biden’s countered with chants of “Four more years,” Biden said: “It’s all right, it’s all right.” He then paused as the chants continued, and the protesters were ushered out, before saying that he understood their “passion” and was working to reduce the suffering in Gaza.


The Biden administration has broadly supported Israel — both in word and in the supplying of weaponry — in its invasion and bombardment of Gaza after Hamas terrorists killed about 1,200 people in an attack on Israel on Oct. 7. Israel’s military campaign has killed more than 22,000 people in Gaza in the three months since, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.


As the civilian death toll and humanitarian crisis in Gaza have mounted, Biden has urged Israel to scale back its campaign and take greater precautions to prevent civilian casualties. But he has continued to support military aid and has not called for a cease-fire, and the United States vetoed a United Nations resolution calling for one.


Voters broadly disapprove of Biden’s handling of the war, and it has become a major political vulnerability for him.


Monday’s protest, though brief, was a stark reminder that Biden will not be able to escape the subject as he seeks reelection. Protesters calling for a cease-fire interrupted at least two of his speeches late last year — one in Minnesota and one in Illinois. More than 500 appointees and employees in the federal government signed a letter calling for a cease-fire in November, staff members held a vigil outside the White House in December, and two officials have resigned in protest of his policies on Israel and Gaza.


But public opinion is deeply divided. A New York Times/Siena College poll in December found: Of the voters who disapproved of Biden’s policies on the war, roughly equal numbers thought he was too supportive of Israel and too supportive of Palestinians.

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