President Biden, after being interrupted at an event in North Carolina on Tuesday by protesters angry about his approach to the war in Gaza, told the audience that the demonstrators “have a point,” adding, “We need to get a lot more care into Gaza.”

Mr. Biden’s remark, which drew cheers and applause from the crowd at a community center gymnasium in Raleigh, came after the White House and the Biden campaign had spent weeks trying to keep pro-Palestinian protesters away from the president’s events, hoping to keep the spotlight on his domestic agenda.

In Raleigh on Tuesday, more than 200 people invited by the White House attended an event where Mr. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke about the Affordable Care Act and their administration’s health care record.

The interruption came from a group of about half a dozen people.

“What about the health care in Gaza?” one person shouted, before another yelled it again.

Mr. Biden stopped. “Everyone deserves health care,” he said.

Many people then began calling out at once. Mr. Biden paused for about 15 seconds. “Be patient with them,” he said.

There was more shouting. One person yelled that Mr. Biden was “complicit.” Another said that health centers in Gaza were “being bombed.”

“They have a point,” Mr. Biden said. “We need to get a lot more care into Gaza.”

The brief back and forth was Mr. Biden’s first direct exchange in weeks with protesters who are angry about his approach to the Israel-Gaza war. His recent campaign stops have been small, invitation-only events at which he has spoken only to his most dedicated supporters. During a campaign event in Milwaukee this month, hundreds of protesters against the war in Gaza were kept a block away, where their chants of “Genocide Joe” could not be heard inside the building hosting the Biden gathering.

In January, Mr. Biden was repeatedly interrupted by Gaza demonstrators during a speech about abortion rights in Virginia. After that episode, he met privately with a small group of his supporters and urged them not to view the protesters as political enemies, saying that they deserved sympathy and that their cause was “really important.”

Mr. Biden’s latest remarks about Gaza came at a particularly fraught moment for relations between the White House and the Israeli government. This week, the United States allowed a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an “immediate cease-fire” in Gaza to pass after vetoing several prior proposals.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel responded by canceling meetings planned in Washington between a high-level Israeli delegation and Biden administration officials.

And on Sunday, Vice President Harris, who has been more publicly sympathetic to the plight of Palestinians than Mr. Biden, said during an interview with ABC News that “it would be a mistake” for Mr. Netanyahu to begin a military operation into the city of Rafah in southern Gaza, as he has been threatening.

Asked in the interview if there would be “consequences” if Israel does invade Rafah, Ms. Harris replied, “I am ruling out nothing.”

Mr. Biden’s stop in North Carolina was the end of a tour of presidential battleground states he embarked upon after his State of the Union address this month. His public appearances in seven other states took place without interruption.


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Credit: NYTimes.com

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