Biden church speech heckled by pro-Gaza ceasefire protesters

Biden church speech heckled by pro-Gaza ceasefire protesters
During his visit to a Charleston church in South Carolina, the US president responded to pro-Palestine protesters who disrupted his speech to demand a ceasefire
3 min read
09 January, 2024
Protesters demanding a ceasefire in Gaza interrupt US President Joe Biden's speech in South Carolina [Getty]

US President Joe Biden's speech at a South Carolina church was interrupted on Monday by protesters demanding an immediate ceasefire to Israel's war on Gaza.

Several protesters interrupted his remarks at the historic Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, where avowed white supremacist Dylann Roof gunned down nine Black parishioners in 2015.

President Biden discussed the "poison" of white supremacy and accused former US President Donald Trump of contributing to racism during his 2020 presidential campaign.

During the speech, pro-Palestine protesters highlighted the Palestinian lives lost in Israel's assault on Gaza which has killed over 23,000 people in two months of bombing.

"If you really care about the lives lost here then you should honour the lives lost and call for a ceasefire in Palestine,” a woman shouted at Biden. The interruption led to chants of “ceasefire now" by activists in the church.

"I understand their passion," Biden said of the protesters who were later removed by security. "And I've been quietly working, quietly working with the Israeli government to get them to reduce and significantly get out of Gaza."

Supporters of the US president responded by chanting "four more years", referring to Biden's re-election campaign.

Biden's response comes after an intense backlash from various politicians, activists, journalists, and academics for the US to call for a permanent ceasefire amid close ally Israel's relentless aggression in the Palestinian enclave.

The US says it is increasing efforts to reduce regional tensions in the Middle East, following US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's recent tour across the region.

However, the US has increased its military supplies to Israel, including at least 15,000 bombs and 57,000 artillery shells since the start of the war, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Blinken will discuss the "way forward" in Israel's war in Gaza as he meets Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday after touring Israel's Arab neighbours.

However, the US has also denied any accusations of Israel's crimes of genocide following South Africa's case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The US has called the case unhelpful while Israeli President Isaac Herzog thanked Washington for its support of Israel.

Israel launched an air and ground assault on the enclave of Gaza that has killed more than 23,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza's health ministry.

At least 249 Palestinians were killed and 510 wounded in attacks by Israel on Gaza over the past 24 hours, the Palestinian health ministry says.

Reuters also contributed to this report.