“We will make business as usual impossible until the U.S. stops funding and fueling a genocide,” Jewish Voice for Peace said.
In what organizers said was the largest action of civil disobedience in New York City since the Iraq War, more than 1,000 protesters blocked traffic on the Manhattan Bridge for hours Sunday to demand a permanent cease-fire in Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza.
The action, organized by Jewish Voice for Peace, began around 2 pm Eastern Time, and traffic began moving again around 5:30 pm, The New York Times reported. The group included 1,500 Jews, Palestinians, religious leaders, and elected officials, Jewish Voice for Peace said on social media.
“These kind of things where you stop traffic brings more attention to the issue,” 74-year-old participant Joan Glickman, who lives in Westchester, toldGothamist. “I do think there are many Americans who don’t really pay attention to how serious this is.”
The protest came on the third day of a negotiated four-day pause in hostilities between Israel and Hamas. On Sunday, Hamas released a third group of 17 hostages while Israel released 39 Palestinian prisoners, The Associated Press reported. However, activists expressed concern about what would happen when the temporary truce ended.
“There are only two days left before the Israeli government resumes its genocidal onslaught against the people of Gaza—funded and fueled by the U.S. Netanyahu has said, ‘We will come back to annihilate them,'” Jewish Voice for Peace tweeted Sunday.
On October 7, Hamas attacked Israel, killing 1,200 and taking around 240 hostages. In the month and a half since, Israel has killed more than 14,800 Palestinians in Gaza, including 10,000 women and children. That figure is more than double the number of women and children confirmed killed in Ukraine in two years of war against Russia. More than 800 legal scholars have said Israel may be committing a genocide in Gaza, and one human rights lawyer and former United Nations official called Israel’s campaign in Gaza a “textbook case of genocide.”
The protesters Sunday blocked the Manhattan entrance to the bridge and sat down in the center of the entrance ramp, The New York Times reported. One person scaled the arch over the ramp to unfurl a Palestinian flag.
“We needed to continue to raise our voices and continue to speak out because there’s thousands of Palestinians that are under the rubble right now,” Jewish Voice for Peace member Jay Saper said at the protest, as the Times reported.
At one point, the protesters said they would refuse to leave until U.S. President Joe Biden called for a permanent cease-fire to the conflict, and they unfurled banners reading, “Lasting cease-fire,” and “The whole world is watching.”
“We will make business as usual impossible until the U.S. stops funding and fueling a genocide,” Jewish Voice for Peace tweeted.
A spokesperson for the New York Police Department told Gothamist that it made “multiple” arrests.
“I hope that this message is strong and they’re listening in the White House,” Palestinian American activist Linda Sarsour said during the protest, as Gothamist reported.