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Thousands Form “Red Line” Around White House to Demand End to Gaza Genocide

Protesters called out Biden for his empty threat to cut off support for the assault on Gaza if Israel invaded Rafah.

Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters gather outside of the White House in Washington, D.C., on June 8, 2024.

As the Israel Defense Forces on Saturday killed over 200 more Palestinians in the Gaza Strip while rescuing four hostages taken by Hamas on October 7, thousands of anti-war protesters descended on the White House in Washington, D.C.

The rally marked not only eight months of the war but also called out U.S. President Joe Biden for his seemingly empty threat to cut off American arms and diplomatic support for the Israeli military campaign, which has killed more than 36,800 people and wounded over 83,600 in Hamas-governed Gaza since October.

Biden threatened to end U.S. support for Israel’s war — which has led to a genocide case before the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court prosecutor to seek arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant — if the IDF attacked Rafah, calling it a “red line.”

However, when Israeli forces began assaulting the southern Gaza city to which over a million Palestinians had fled and seized the border crossing with Egypt, further limiting the flow of desperately needed humanitarian aid, the White House claimed the actions didn’t amount to crossing what critics called “the Biden administration’s ever-shifting red lines.”

Protesters in D.C. on Saturday held signs that said, “Genocide is our red line” and “Israel bombs, your taxes pay,” The Washington Post reported. According to the newspaper:

Aiya, a George Washington University student and a leader of GW Students for Justice in Palestine, said the student activism has “really lit a fire under the Free Palestine movement, because it has pushed the bounds of what we here in the United States and the diaspora are willing to sacrifice.” Before police shut it down last month, hundreds of GWU students set up a pro-Palestinian encampment—one of numerous throughout the country.

Aiya, who did not share a last name for privacy reasons, said students wanted Gazans to know they are “not alone.”

“We say at campus protests, ‘We will not rest till you divest,’ and we mean that. We have been out here tirelessly,” Aiya said. “I mean, how could we tire when we see the people of Gaza endure through literally hell on Earth?”

The protesters chanted, “From D.C. to Palestine, we are the red line,” and held a red banner around the White House as a symbol of Biden’s claims, which some referenced directly when detailing their reasons for joining the demonstration.

“The intention is to draw a red line where Biden won’t draw one when it comes to Israel’s genocide in Gaza, and say we as the people are drawing the red line today to say enough is enough,” Nas Issa of the Palestinian Youth Movement told NBC News. “It’s time for an arms embargo, and it’s time to end this.”

Agence France-Presse also spoke with participants critical of the Biden administration for supporting the Israeli war effort as it mediates cease-fire negotiations alongside Egypt and Qatar.

“I no longer believe any of the words that Joe Biden says,” explained Zaid Mahdawi, a 25-year-old protester from Virginia whose parents are Palestinian. “This ‘red line’ in his rhetoric is rubbish… It shows his hypocrisy and his cowardice.”

Multiple protesters — including some who voted for Biden in 2020 — told AFP and NBC that they won’t cast ballots for the Democrat in November. None of them signaled support for former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, but some said they may vote for third-party or Independent candidates, who lack the support needed to beat the two major party contenders.

Polling and the “uncommitted” campaigns during state primaries have shown that Biden backing Israel’s war is costing him votes. Bend the Arc: Jewish Action and the NAACP delivered similar warnings this week, with the former’s CEO writing that “U.S. support for continued violence in Gaza is putting American safety and U.S. democracy in danger.”

In response to the Saturday protest, Biden campaign spokesperson Seth Schuster said that the president “believes making your voice heard and participating in our democracy is fundamental to who we are as Americans.”

“He shares the goal for an end to the violence and a just, lasting peace in the Middle East,” Schuster added. “He’s working tirelessly to that end.”

While Biden was in France on Saturday for a state visit with French President Emmanuel Macron and the D-Day anniversary, a Secret Service spokesperson told The Hill that in anticipation of protests, “additional public safety measures including anti-scale fencing have been put in place near the White House complex.”

Biden said in France that “I want to echo President Macron’s comments welcoming the safe rescue of four hostages that were returned to their families in Israel. We won’t stop working until all the hostages come home and a cease-fire is reached.”

The White House put out a statement along the same lines — which, as the anti-war group CodePink highlighted, also did not recognize the hundreds of Palestinians killed and injured in the IDF operation at Gaza’s Nuseirat refugee camp.

Speaking at the D.C. rally, CodePink East Coast organizer Krys Cerisier said that “we stand side by side with struggles across the globe to tell everybody in the White House that we can see them. We can see them for what they are, and that is war criminals, war criminals who deserve to be held accountable for the countless genocides, the countless wars, and the countless crimes they have committed against Black and brown people across the globe.”

“We say no to war. We say no to bombs. We say no to mines, to planes, to tanks! We say no!” Cerisier declared. “We say yes to education! We say yes to food — to care for the community! But we say no to being led by people who only care about funding war.”

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