Protesters interrupt Blinken and Austin at US Senate hearing

Secretaries of State and Defence were testifying about the urgent need for military funding for Israel and Ukraine

US Secretary of State interrupted by pro-Palestine protesters at Senate hearing

US Secretary of State interrupted by pro-Palestine protesters at Senate hearing
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Two of President Joe Biden's top advisers were repeatedly blocked from speaking at a US Senate hearing on Tuesday as anti-war protesters with red-stained hands called for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin were trying to convince politicians that Israel's and Ukraine's militaries both need billions more in emergency funding, despite huge budget deficits and growing divisions over the Biden administration's policies towards the two nations.

Mr Biden has requested $106 billion to fund plans for Ukraine, Israel and US border security. The White House request also includes money for Taiwan, which is facing threats from China.

Shortly after Mr Blinken began speaking, several protesters interrupted proceedings.

“Stop the brutal massacre in Gaza,” one shouted, while others yelled: “Ceasefire now.”

Mr Blinken described in graphic detail some of the killings conducted by Hamas militants who murdered more than 1,400 civilians on Israeli kibbutzim on October 7.

“When it comes to a ceasefire in this moment … that would simply consolidate what Hamas has been able to do and allow it to remain where it is, and potentially repeat what it did another day,” Mr Blinken said.

“That's not tolerable. No nation would tolerate it.”

Mr Blinken said the Biden administration is “committed to the protection of civilian life”.

“All of us know the suffering that is taking place as we speak all of us are determined to see it end. But all of us know the imperative of standing up with our allies and partners when their security when their democracies are threatened,” he added.

The hearing took place as reports came in that dozens of people were said to have been killed in an Israeli air strike on Gaza's Jabalia refugee camp.

The director of the Indonesian Hospital, where victims are being transported, said at least 50 people have been confirmed dead.

So far, more than 8,300 people have been killed in Gaza since October 7, according to local health authorities.

House Republicans on Monday introduced legislation that would send $14.3 in security aid to Israel, but it provides nothing for Ukraine.

Mr Blinken and Mr Austin warned that the consequences of failing to help Ukraine and Israel would be dire, leading to threats to US and global security.

“We now stand at a moment where many are again making the bet that the United States is too divided or distracted at home to stay the course,” Mr Blinken said. “That is what is at stake.”

Mr Austin said that if the US fails to lead, “the cost and the threats to the United States will only grow”.

“We must not give our friends, our rivals, or our foes any reason to doubt America’s resolve.”

Mr Biden has requested $14.3 billion for Israel, $61.4 billion to support Ukraine, $9.1 billion for humanitarian efforts in Gaza and elsewhere, and $7.4 billion for the Indo-Pacific, where the US is focused on countering China's influence.

The White House has also requested about $14 billion to protect the US border. That money would be used to boost the number of border agents, install new inspection machines to detect fentanyl and to increase staffing for processing asylum cases.

Updated: October 31, 2023, 9:24 PM