Thousands gather at White House for pro-Palestinian protest

<span>Pro-Palestinian demonstrators surround the White House on 8 June 2024.</span><span>Photograph: Tom Brenner/Reuters</span>
Pro-Palestinian demonstrators surround the White House on 8 June 2024.Photograph: Tom Brenner/Reuters

Thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered outside the White House on Saturday to protest Joe Biden’s response to Israel’s ongoing military strikes on Gaza.

Footage posted to social media showed police using pepper spray on protesters, who faced arrest at the mass demonstration.

At least one demonstrator also held a canister that released green and white smoke near the southern side of the White House.

The demonstrator, who was dressed as the superhero character Spiderman, shouted along with a crowd: “Biden, Biden, we can’t wait! We’ll see you at the Hague!”

The Hague is the Dutch city that is home to the international criminal court that prosecutes war crimes.

The protest comes after criticism aimed at the president over his handling of Israel’s continued strikes on Gaza in response to the 7 October 2023 attack by Hamas.

Saturday’s demonstration featured a coalition of groups including Code Pink and the Council on American Islamic Relation, Reuters reported.

Biden has claimed that Israel’s latest attacks on Rafah do not violate the US’s red line – or, limit – with respect to support for its ally.

The Biden administration has continued to provide American weapons to Israel, even as the Israeli military launched an airstrike against a tent city in Rafah two weeks earlier that killed at least 45 people.

Saturday’s protest also comes days after Biden told Time magazine that there is “every reason” to believe that the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is prolonging the war in Gaza for his own political gain – accusations the Israeli government has criticized.

On Saturday, protesters held a red banner around the perimeter of the White House to symbolize the US’s red line with respect to Israel.

They also held up Palestinian flags and protest signs decrying what they describe as a genocide in Gaza.

“Biden, you got blood on your hands,” read one protest sign.

Another sign simply read: “Free Palestine.”

Demonstrators shouted slogans that condemned the president’s response, including: “Biden, Biden, you’re a sellout. Pack your bags and get the hell out!”

Protesters will reportedly be surrounding the White House all day.

Saturday marks eight months since Israel’s current war against Gaza began, after Hamas killed 1,200 people in Israel and took 250 people hostage during the 7 October attack.

Since the war began, more than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israel’s military attacks.

Gaza has also been pushed into a humanitarian crisis amid widespread hunger and disease within the territory.