President Biden on Thursday called into a meeting for Democratic National Committee (DNC) and campaign staffers to express his appreciation after protesters calling for a cease-fire in Gaza clashed with law enforcement outside DNC headquarters.
The president and first lady Jill Biden “expressed appreciation to law enforcement who kept everyone inside the DNC safe last night, including staff and Members of Congress,” the White House said. “The President and First Lady also thanked the staffers for all they do, wished them a happy Thanksgiving, and told them to take care of each other.”
Hundreds of protesters gathered outside DNC headquarters in Washington, D.C., Wednesday night calling for a cease-fire in the war between Israel and Hamas. Protesters blocked entrances and exits to the building, where House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and other lawmakers were inside for a reception.
The situation turned chaotic as protesters and U.S. Capitol Police clashed. Law enforcement arrived at the building to evacuate lawmakers and escort them to safety.
Capitol Police alleged some of the protesters “moved dumpsters in front of the exits, pepper sprayed our officers and attempted to pick up the bike rack,” prompting officers to clear them from the area.
Six officers were treated for injuries, and one individual was arrested after he allegedly slammed one officer into a garage and punched them in the face.
Protesters, however, argued law enforcement had pepper sprayed them and rushed them without warning. Organizers said dozens of protesters were injured in the clash with officers.
The chaos marked the latest example of how tensions have boiled over amid the fighting between Israel and Hamas since the terrorist organization’s initial Oct. 7 attack that left more than 1,000 Israelis dead.
Israeli forces have for weeks carried out shelling and military operations in Gaza that have killed thousands of Palestinians, prompting outcry from activists and some progressive lawmakers who have called for a cease-fire.
Biden and other White House officials have stood firmly with Israel, arguing the country has a right to defend itself and respond to what has been described as the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust. But it has also cautioned that Israel needs to abide by international law while carrying out its attacks.
The White House has also supported humanitarian pauses to allow aid into Gaza and for civilians to get out, but officials have argued a lengthy cease-fire would benefit Hamas.
“With regard to when is this going to stop, I think it’s going to stop when Hamas no longer maintains the capacity to murder and abuse and — and just do horrific things to the Israelis,” Biden said in a press conference Wednesday. “And they … at least as of this morning, they still thought they could.”
“The IDF, the Israeli Defense Forces, acknowledges they have an obligation to use as much caution as they can in going after their targets,” he added.