Protestors Interrupt Blinken Hearing
The Senate Appropriations Committee hearing came to a halt on Tuesday as Secretary of State Antony Blinken's testimony was repeatedly interrupted by protesters calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.
Blinken's appearance was part of a hearing to review the Biden administration's request for national security supplemental funding. However, the proceedings were disrupted multiple times by the passionate voices and unrest of the protesters in the audience. One woman could be heard shouting "People are not animals!" before being escorted out of the chamber. Another cried "Cease-fire now!" while others sat silently with raised, red-painted hands and signs demanding an end to U.S. funding in Israel.
The disruptions also affected other officials, such as Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin, who also faced interruptions from the same group of protesters.
Six protestors have disrupted the Senate Appropriations hearing on President Biden’s national security aid request for Ukraine and Israel.
More appear poised to follow, screaming for a ceasefire in Gaza. pic.twitter.com/sbThIFglD4
— Alex J. Rouhandeh (@AlexRouhandeh) October 31, 2023
According to a news release from the organization CODEPINK, several of its members, including 29-year U.S. Army veteran and former diplomat Col. Ann Wright and peace activist David Barrows, were arrested for their actions. The organization explained that the red-painted hands of the silent protesters symbolized the bloodshed and loss of life in the ongoing conflict.
U.S. Capitol Police stated that approximately 12 people were arrested for their "illegal protesting" inside the Senate office building.
Protestors inside the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing with Secretaries Blinken and Austin are being escorted out of the room.
Code Pink protestors are shouting “ceasefire now!” pic.twitter.com/tySYvCmnfn
— Kate Santaliz (@kate_santaliz) October 31, 2023
Despite the interruptions, Blinken continued to outline the Biden administration's request for aid. The proposed $106 billion supplemental funding would primarily be allocated to Ukraine, Israel, and other causes. Blinken highlighted that this aid was crucial in showing the enduring support of the United States for these nations. Of the total amount, $3.7 billion would be designated for Israel's security needs, including enhancing its air and missile defense systems. In addition, $14 billion would be directed to Israel for other purposes.
The issue of Israeli aid has been a contentious one, with criticism mounting in recent weeks due to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. Since attacks by Hamas on Oct. 7, both sides have engaged in missile fire, and an Israeli ground invasion of the Gaza Strip is currently underway. Moreover, the blockade of Gaza, which has been preventing the flow of essential supplies, including food and water, has only added to the suffering of civilians caught in the crossfire. According to the Gaza Ministry of Health, thousands of people, including children and non-combatants, have lost their lives since Oct. 7, leading to increased criticism of the U.S.'s support for Israel.
Protestors have interrupted Blinken's testimony in the Senate Appropriations hearing calling for a 'ceasefire' pic.twitter.com/QRjU6YzLoQ
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) October 31, 2023
In his prepared remarks, Blinken acknowledged the need for minimizing civilian casualties, stating that "the way Israel defends itself matters." He also added that President Biden has stressed the importance of Israel operating within the boundaries of international humanitarian law and taking all necessary measures to protect innocent lives.
While the current supplemental funding request has been met with mixed reactions, it is essential to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and find a sustainable solution to the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. The disruptions during the Senate Appropriations Committee hearing serve as a reminder that the voices of those impacted by the situation must be heard and considered in any decision-making process.
Anti-war protestors disrupt US Secretary of State's senate hearing demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.
Antony Blinken was trying to get support for the White House's $106 billion funding request for Ukraine and Israel's war on Palestine pic.twitter.com/2TgjMJ05ku
— TRT World (@trtworld) October 31, 2023