Anti-war protestors symbolically raised their blood-painted hands behind US secretary of state during a senate hearing.
A group of protesters repeatedly interrupted a US Senate hearing on Tuesday, in which Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin testified about billions of US dollars being provided to Israel amid its relentless war on Gaza.
The protestors were filmed shouting slogans such as “ceasefire now!” “protect the children of Gaza!” and “stop funding genocide”.
In one profound image, Blinken was pictured against the backdrop of protesters with blood-stained hands, symbolising what they say is blood on the hands of the Biden administration for its direct role in Israeli aggression against Palestinians.
One by one, each activist took turns to disrupt Blinken’s testimony, with one saying:”Not one senator is calling for a ceasefire, shame on you all!”
As individual disruptions piled up, the demonstrators collectively rose to their feet and shouted, “Blinken, you are funding genocide!” and “Blinken, you have blood on your hands!”
The group chanted “From Palestine to Mexico, all the walls have got to go! Defund genocide! Let Gaza live,” reflecting growing frustration over budget allocations, including those for the US southern border.
Seven activists were arrested for participating in the protest.
The protest, orchestrated by a coalition of organisations including Muslims for Just Futures and the Detention Watch Network, is just one of the many disruptions led by pro-Palestine activists across the US.
Blinken momentarily paused his speech as security removed the activists from the hall. Towards the end of his address, he made ambiguous remarks to the protesters: “I also hear very much the passion expressed in this room and outside this room. All of us are committed to the protection of civilian life.”
The uproar, fueled by the ongoing Israeli war on Gaza, was even more exacerbated due to the Biden administration’s reluctance to call for a ceasefire and instead its decision to fuel Israel’s military offensive in the besieged enclave.
Blinken and Austin testified to the Senate Appropriations Committee on the emergency budget request put forth by the Biden administration last week, which allocates $106 billion for Ukraine and the US southern border, as well as an extra substantial $14.3 billion for Israel.
In a letter on 20 October, the Office of Budget and Management suggested that the ongoing war may lead to displacement across borders and increase regional humanitarian needs.
This has raised concerns among many that the White House push contains language that suggests efforts to remove Palestinians from Gaza and may be seen as endorsing the mass displacement of Palestinians from Gaza, especially given the reluctance of US officials to urge restraint on Israel.
In Cambridge, Massachusetts, a separate demonstration outside Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems saw around 200 protesters take to the streets, resulting in the arrest of nine individuals, according to local news reports.
Since the start of the war on October 7, Israel has killed at least 8,796 Palestinians, including 3,648 children who represent more than 40% of the toll.
On Friday, the UN General Assembly adopted a non-binding Arab resolution for a humanitarian truce in Gaza following an overwhelming majority vote of 120 members, including Qatar.
Israel and its main ally, the US, which has blocked at least three other proposals that called for a humanitarian ceasefire amid the ongoing Israeli war on Gaza, rejected the proposal, again.
The Pentagon also continues to provide weapons shipments almost on a daily basis to Israel, Pentagon deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh told reporters. “We are not putting any limits on how Israel uses weapons,” Singh said.
“That is really up to the Israeli Defense Force to use and how they are going to conduct their operations.”
On Tuesday, the Director of the New York Office of UN High Commissioner of Human Rights has resigned in protest over the organisation’s inability to take action against Israel’s genocidal campaign in Gaza, describing western governments as “wholly complicit in the horrific assault”.
“Once again, we are seeing a genocide unfolding before our eyes, and the Organisation that we serve appears powerless to stop it,” Craig Mokhiber said in a statement addressed to the UN high commissioner in Geneva, Volker Turk.
The director, who had worked with the UN for more than three decades, wrote a four-page letter that called the Israeli war an “ethno-nationalist colonial-settler ideology” designed to uphold a “systematic persecution” of Arabs.
“The current wholesale slaughter of the Palestinian people, rooted in an ethno-nationalist colonial-settler ideology, in continuation of decades of their systematic persecution and purging, based entirely upon their status as Arabs … leaves no room for doubt,” Mokhiber added.
He added that the strategies used by the Israeli government on Palestinians is a “text-book case of genocide” and said the US, UK, and much of Europe were not only complicit in the massacre but have allowed Western corporate media to dehumanise Palestinians.
“What’s more, the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom, and much of Europe are wholly complicit in the horrific assault,” he wrote. “US-based social media companies are suppressing the voices of human rights defenders while amplifying pro-Israel propaganda.”
“Israel-lobby online trolls and Gongos [government-sponsored non-governmental organisations] are harassing and smearing human rights defenders, and Western universities and employers are collaborating with them to punish those who dare to speak out against the atrocities,” the attorney in international human rights law expressed.