New York police arrest hundreds at Jewish protest urging Gaza ceasefire

New York police arrest hundreds at Jewish protest urging Gaza ceasefire

New York (AFP): Hundreds of people were arrested Friday when police broke up a large demonstration of mostly Jewish New Yorkers who had taken over the main hall of Grand Central station in protest of Israel’s bombardment of Gaza, police and organizers said.

The New York Police Department said at least 200 people had been arrested, while protest organizers put the number at more than 300.

Photos from the scene showed long lines of young people standing in handcuffs and wearing black sweatshirts with the words “Not In Our Name” and “Cease Fire Now” printed in white.

The massive sit-in was called by the group Jewish Voice for Peace-New York City, which said thousands of its members had attended the protest, blocking the main concourse of the city’s central rail station.

Pictures showed the terminal packed with protesters who held up banners reading “Palestinians should be free” and “Mourn the dead, fight like hell for the living.”

Organizers called the peaceful sit-in “the largest civil disobedience New York City has seen in 20 years.”

Rabbis launched the event by lighting Shabbat candles and reciting the Jewish prayer for the dead, known as the kaddish.

“While Shabbat is typically a day of rest, we cannot afford to rest while genocide is unfolding in our names,” said Rabbi May Ye, in a statement released by organizers.

“The lives of Palestinians and Israelis are intertwined, and safety can only come from justice, equality, and freedom for all,” the rabbi said.

Israel launched its bombardment of Gaza after Hamas gunmen stormed across the border on October 7, killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping over 220 others, according to Israeli officials.

The Hamas-run health ministry said Friday that Israeli strikes on Gaza had now killed 7,326 people, more than 3,000 of them children.