Pro-Palestinian demonstrators on Monday morning blocked off entrances to the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges, as well as the Holland Tunnel, disrupting rush-hour traffic in Manhattan as they protested Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip and called for a cease-fire.
Protesters at the Holland Tunnel held aloft a Palestinian flag and banners that read “Lift the siege on Gaza” and “End the occupation.” Nearby, a group of demonstrators in fluorescent vests and masks linked arms and redirected cars away from the outbound ramp.
The participants gathered at City Hall Park early Monday, the police said, before dispersing in smaller groups and traveling to the bridges and the tunnel.
Such protests have become an almost daily feature of life in New York City since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing roughly 1,200 people. Israel has since killed more than 22,000 Palestinians, many of them women and children, in airstrikes and a ground invasion, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, with thousands more missing.
The demonstrations have sparked debates about the effectiveness of public protests that disrupt daily life in American cities.
“In Gaza, of course, people have limited mobility, no freedom of movement, they cannot leave, even if they want to, they move place to place then those places are bombed,” Rachel Himes, one of the demonstrators, said shortly before she was arrested at the Holland Tunnel, explaining why protesters had chosen to block traffic. “We wanted to create that condition temporarily in Manhattan.”
Shortly before 10 a.m., police officers at the Holland Tunnel told the protesters that they had two minutes to clear the area. Moments later, they began arresting some of them, binding their hands with zip ties, as onlookers chanted, “Let Gaza live!” Traffic resumed through the tunnel just after 10:30.
Those arrested at the Brooklyn Bridge were shepherded onto an out-of-service city bus.
The police did not immediately respond to a request for comment about how many people were arrested in all.
Julian Roberts-Grmela and Claire Fahy contributed reporting.