Anti-Israel protesters interrupted U.S. President Joe Biden’s 30-minute campaign speech on Monday at the African Methodist Episcopal church Mother Emanuel, in Charleston, S.C., which was the site of a 2015 mass shooting hate crime, in which nine people were killed.
“If you really care about the lives lost here, then you should honor the lives lost and call for a ceasefire in Palestine,” a small group of protesters yelled, about seven-and-a-half minutes into Biden’s remarks. They then chanted “Ceasefire now,” before being removed from the more than 200-year-old church.
“That’s all right,” Biden said, as many took to their feet and chanted, “Four more years.”
“I’ve been quietly working with the Israeli government to get them to reduce and significantly get out of Gaza,” Biden told the audience. “I’m using all that I can to do that. But I understand the passion.”
The Biden administration has rejected calls for a ceasefire in Israel’s war to defeat Hamas, instead at times calling for “humanitarian pauses.”
The Israeli military on Monday confirmed that it had shifted to a less intensive stage of the conflict, after weeks of U.S. pressure to reduce civilian casualties.
At a press event in Qatar on Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that he discussed reducing civilian casualties in Gaza in every meeting he had in his whirlwind tour of the region in recent days.
“As Israel moves to a lower-intensity phase of its military operation in the north, the United Nations can also play a crucial role in evaluating what needs to be done to allow displaced Palestinians to return home,” Blinken said.
“Palestinian civilians must be able to return home as soon as conditions allow,” he said. “They cannot and they must not be pressed to leave Gaza.”
Blinken is due to arrive in Israel later on Monday.