Pro-Palestine protester interrupts Biden speech

President Joe Biden’s speech to union workers in northern Illinois was interrupted by a protester calling on him to push for a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas.

It was the first visit to the northern Illinois Stateline area by a sitting US president since Ronald Reagan visited his hometown Dixon to mark his 73rd birthday in February 1984.

Mr Biden joined members of the United Auto Workers union, saying that he sees “the future here in Belvidere” just east of Rockford, adding that the Stellantis auto plant is the “beating heart of the community” as it reopened following the union striking a deal with the automakers.

“President Biden, you need to call for a ceasefire in Gaza,” a protester yelled during Mr Biden’s speech, but she was soon drowned out by the auto workers chanting “we love Joe”.

Mr Biden attempted to calm the reaction to the protester’s outburst. “Let her go ... it’s okay,” he said.

As there was a crash heard in the audience, Mr Biden shared a self-deprecating quip, saying “I want the press to know that wasn’t me,” seemingly in reference to the widespread reporting of the president’s recent tumbles.

“I see real heroes,” Mr Biden said as he looked at the crowd. “I’ve never been more optimistic about the future of America than today.”

The protester’s call for a ceasefire comes as Israel has agreed to daily pauses in its assault on Gaza with the breaks set to last four hours at a time. Israel began its counteroffensive after the Hamas attack on the country on 7 October which left more than 1,400 people dead and more than 200 taken hostage. According to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry, the number of dead in the Strip has passed 10,000.

The White House announced the pauses on Thursday, following increasing pressure on the Biden administration to act to stop the continued killing of civilians. The pauses are set to take place in areas of northern Gaza to allow civilians to flee.

The agreement broadens the efforts of recent days when Israel has allowed people to leave northern Gaza for hours at a time within a corridor leading south. The White House said a second corridor would be established along the coast.

White House spokesperson said on Thursday: “We have been told by the Israelis that there will be no military operations in these areas over the duration of the pause and that this process is starting today.”

“These are good steps in the right direction,” he added, according to The New York Times.

He said the administration is hopeful that the pauses will carry on “for as long as they’re needed”.