President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden experienced an unexpected turn during their leisurely walk in Nantucket, Massachusetts, as they encountered a group of vocal protesters advocating for peace in the Middle East. The presidential couple, spending their Thanksgiving weekend on the picturesque island, were heading for a late lunch on Broad Street around 2:30 p.m. when they were met with chants demanding a “ceasefire” and cries for “Free Palestine.”
The Bidens, amid a mixed crowd of supporters and dissenters, were en route to the local eatery Brotherhood of the Thieves. The scene captured several bystanders filming the first family, while a few protesters voiced their concerns over the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Later that day, close to 5 p.m., the Bidens attended a Christmas tree lighting in the town. Here, a small but noticeable group of protesters blended with the crowd, some displaying signs echoing their earlier message of “Free Palestine.” The group intensified their protest with chants accusing President Biden of neglecting their cause.
Despite attempts by a local community leader to mediate, urging respect for free speech but asking for a cessation of the protest, the group persisted, according to reports from journalists present.
The backdrop to these protests is the recent development in the Middle East, where 24 hostages were released by Hamas to Israel early Friday morning. This release marks the first phase of an agreement between Israel and Hamas following the Oct. 7 attack, which had tragic consequences, including numerous casualties and the capture of over 200 hostages.
As part of the ongoing negotiations, 50 civilians, predominantly women and children, will be released in return for a four-day ceasefire. Further, Israel has committed to freeing about 150 Palestinian women and teenagers in exchange for the continued release of hostages.
President Biden, addressing these developments in a speech on Friday afternoon, emphasized his role in advocating for a ceasefire. He highlighted two primary objectives: to expedite humanitarian aid to Gaza and to facilitate the release of hostages. While acknowledging that this is just the beginning, the President expressed satisfaction with the progress thus far.