Anti-Israel Protesters Shut Down Senate Cafeteria, Chant ‘Senate Can't Eat Until Gaza Eats’

U.S. Capitol
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April 9, 2024

Capitol Police on Tuesday arrested dozens of anti-Israel protesters who shut down a Senate cafeteria to demand Congress send more aid to Gaza and stop selling weapons to Israel.

"Senate can’t eat until Gaza eats," the protesters chanted as they took over a cafeteria in the Dirksen Senate Office building. The demonstration was organized by Christians for a Free Palestine and involved more than 60 anti-Israel activists, most of whom were arrested and charged with crowding, obstructing, or incommoding, according to The Hill.

"[The protestors] announced that they would not leave or let anyone get food in the Senate Cafeteria until nourishing food is sent to Gaza and the U.S. stops funding the bombs that have killed over 33,000 Palestinians since Oct. 7," Christians for a Free Palestine said in a statement to The Hill.

"The Senate and their staff will not be dining today until the people of Gaza eat and are safe," one of the protesters said, per the outlet. "We are here to pray blessings for the food that Congress will send to Gaza when they do the right thing. We are here to call attention to what is wrong, like our faith calls us to do."

Many of the same protesters earlier on Tuesday disrupted a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the Pentagon’s 2025 budget, according to Fox News. The activists, who moved into the hearing room when Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was making his opening remarks, accused Congress of funding a genocide in the Gaza Strip.

The Tuesday protests came as critics of Israel have accused the state of committing genocide against Palestinians since Hamas’s Oct. 7 terrorist attack on Israel. Austin, however, said at the hearing that the Pentagon "[does] not have any evidence of genocide being [committed]" by Israel in Gaza, adding that "from the very beginning we are committed to help assist Israel in defending its territory and its people by providing security assistance."