NEW YORK (AP) — A sea of hundreds of protesters filled the main concourse of New York City’s famed Grand Central Terminal during the evening rush hour Friday, chanting slogans and unfurling banners demanding a cease-fire as Israel intensified its bombardment of the Gaza Strip.
Wearing black T-shirts saying “Jews say cease-fire now” and “Not in our name,” at least 200 of the demonstrators were detained by New York Police Department officers and led out of the train station, their hands zip-tied behind their backs. The NYPD said the protesters were taken briefly into custody, issued summonses and released, and that a more exact number of detentions would be available Saturday morning.
Some protesters hoisted banners as they scaled the stone ledges in front of leaderboards listing departure times. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority asked commuters to use Penn Station as an alternative. After the sit-in was broken up by police, the remaining protesters spilled into the streets outside.
“Hundreds of Jews and friends are taking over Grand Central Station in a historic sit-in calling for a ceasefire,” advocacy group Jewish Voice for Peace said on social media.
The scene echoed last week’s sit-in on Capitol Hill in Washington, where Jewish advocacy groups, including Jewish Voice for Peace and If Not Now, poured into a congressional office building. More than 300 people were arrested for illegally demonstrating.
Israel stepped up airstrikes across the Gaza Strip on Friday, knocking out internet and largely cutting off communication with the 2.3 million people inside the besieged Palestinian enclave. Gaza’s Hamas-run Health Ministry says more than 7,300 people have been killed, more than 60% of them minors and women.
The Israeli military’s announcement it was “expanding” ground operations in the territory signaled it was moving closer to an all-out invasion of Gaza, where it has vowed to crush the ruling Hamas militant group after its bloody incursion in southern Israel three weeks ago. More than 1,400 people were slain in Israel during the attack, according to the Israeli government, and at least 229 hostages were taken into Gaza.
The U.N. General Assembly approved a nonbinding resolution calling for a “humanitarian truce” in Gaza leading to a cessation of hostilities. It was the first U.N. response to Hamas’ surprise Oct. 7 attacks and Israel’s ongoing military response.