New York: Hundreds of anti-Israel demonstrators, part of a “Flood Manhattan for Gaza” protest, stormed Grand Central Terminal, prompting its closure. The protesters, rallying against the Jewish state, set fire to an Israeli flag at Columbus Circle, chanted anti-Israel slogans, and splattered fake blood on the New York Times building during their march through Manhattan, New York Post reported.
“We don’t want a Jewish state. We want ’48!” was among the chants at the start, referring to Palestine before Israel’s establishment. The crowd also yelled, “Settlers, settlers go back home! Palestine is ours alone!” and “It is right to rebel.”
The protest encountered a small group of Israel supporters. Gregory Jachts, a Bergen County resident, found the chants calling for the elimination of Israel offensive. “They were chanting from the river to the sea and that calls for the elimination of Israel and the genocide of the Jews,” said Jachts, who is not Jewish but has family in Israel, as reported by New York Post.
About 2,000 protesters marched east on 59th Street from Columbus Circle, placing stickers with messages like “Zionism is terrorism” and “Israel is committing genocide in Gaza” on the Dior store’s windows on 5th Avenue.
Anna Ahmed, a Midtown resident with a Palestinian flag, called for an end to violence, citing Israel’s occupation since 1948 and alleged attacks on children and hospitals.
“Since ’48 Israel came and occupied Palestine. Since that day and today they’re killing kids and children. Every day they’re bombing hospitals, kids and schools, and houses,” she said.
According to the Hamas-run health ministry, over 11,000 Palestinians have died in Gaza since Israel’s response to Hamas’ October 7 attack that resulted in around 1,200 Israeli casualties.
Demonstrators projected messages on the Museum of Modern Art building: “Palestine will be free,” “Cease apartheid,” “Cease funding Israel,” and “Cease Imperialism”, as reported by New York Post.
The group proceeded to Times Square, expressing discontent at Starbucks stores on 6th Avenue and Madison Avenue.
The protest turned confrontational at Starbucks stores, with chants accusing the company of supporting “genocide.” Fake blood was splattered on the New York Times building following Thursday’s takeover by pro-Palestinian protesters. The march proceeded to Grand Central Terminal, where attempts were made to force entry, leading to cracked glass and arrests.
Entrances to Grand Central were closed due to the demonstration, echoing a similar disruption last month. Multiple arrests were made, with police working to disperse the remaining protesters.
During Friday night’s demonstration near Lexington Avenue and 43rd Street, at least one man was arrested by the police. While police confirmed multiple arrests, a final tally was not provided, New York Post reported.