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Protesters demand Gaza cease-fire during Blinken congress hearing

Protesters calling for a cease-fire in Gaza raise their hands covered in red as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (C) and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (not pictured) testify at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing to review their national security supplemental requests in the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C., Oct. 31, 2023. (EPA Photo)

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s testimony during a Congress hearing was repeatedly interrupted by protesters, who demanded a cease-fire and end to ongoing Israeli violence against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.

Blinken sat silently as protesters demanding a halt to Israel’s ongoing massacres repeatedly interrupted him as he testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee. The first shouted “Cease-fire now!” and “Save the children of Gaza!”

“Palestinians aren’t animals!” another demonstrator shouted while others said, “Let Gaza live!”

Some two dozen spectators raised hands covered in paint in a symbol of the bloodshed in the Gaza Strip since Israel began its bombardment of the Palestinian territory after Hamas’s attack earlier this month.

Several wore messages of “Free Gaza” written on their arms and held signs demanding “No more $$$ 4 Israel,” while some cried out “Cease-fire now,” “Palestinians are not animals” and “Shame on you all.”

One man wore a shirt reading “Stop backing genocide.”

Gaza’s death toll has soared to 8,525 amid relentless retaliatory Israeli bombardment, including 3,542 children and 2,187 women, while 21,543 other people have been injured, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry. Israel began its incessant attacks in Gaza following Hamas’s shocking Oct. 7 attack that killed over 1,400 Israelis.

Besides air raids and a ground offensive, Israel has imposed a “full siege” on Gaza that has greatly stunted humanitarian assistance from flowing into the coastal enclave where resources of food, water and fuel have been rapidly depleted.

Over 1 million people have been displaced.

After being able to continue his testimony, Blinken said humanitarian aid must be allowed to enter Gaza, and “civilians must be able to stay out of harm’s way.”

“Humanitarian pauses must be considered. Helping prevent a worsening humanitarian catastrophe aligns with our nation’s most deeply held principles, including our belief that every civilian life is equally valuable, equally worthy of protection. Without swift and sustained humanitarian relief, the conflict is much more likely to spread,” he added.

Testifying alongside Blinken, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he has “repeatedly made clear to Israel’s leaders that protecting civilians in Gaza is both a moral responsibility and a strategic imperative.”

President Joe Biden has asked Congress for more than $105 billion in security spending, including $14.3 billion for its staunch ally Israel.

By Agencies

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