Dozens of mostly Jewish protesters staged a sit-in on the station’s main concourse calling for a Gaza ceasefire.
Hundreds of protesters have been arrested after a “sit-in” on the main concourse of New York’s Grand Central Station, one of the city’s major transport hubs, demanding a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
The protesters, wearing black T-shirts reading ‘Ceasefire now’ and ‘Not in our name’, unfurled banners calling for freedom for Palestinians and an end to the bombardment of Gaza.
“No more weapons. No more war. Ceasefire is what we’re fighting for,” they chanted, punching the air.
Banners were hung from the concourse’s sweeping staircase, and across the departures board.
“Mourn the dead, and fight like hell for the living,” read one.
The New York Police Department said it had arrested at least 200 protesters at the rally, which led to the temporary closure of the station.
The anti-war group Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), which organised the demonstration, put the number of arrests at more than 300.
Photos and videos showing police in the station alongside dozens of protesters whose arms had been tied behind their backs.
JVP said thousands had taken part in what it described as an “emergency sit-in”.
“HUNDREDS OF JEWS AND ALLIES ARE GETTING ARRESTED IN WHAT IS LIKELY THE BIGGEST MASS CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE NYC HAS SEEN IN TWO DECADES,” the group wrote in a post on Instagram.
— Nora Lester Murad (@NoraInPalestine) October 27, 2023
A very long line of Jews in cuffs going into a very long line of NYPD commandeered buses after taking over Grand Central Station for Gaza #CeasefireNOW @jvplive @IfNotNowOrg @JFREJNYC pic.twitter.com/XyUg8j6EXX
— Rafael Shimunov (@rafaelshimunov) October 28, 2023
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,” Rabbi May Ye, was quoted as saying in a statement released by the organisers.
“The lives of Palestinians and Israelis are intertwined, and safety can only come from justice, equality, and freedom for all,” the rabbi said.
The rally in New York came hours after Israel said its military was stepping up its air and ground attacks on the besieged Palestinian enclave of Gaza, and cut off communication networks.
The latest violence erupted after Hamas launched a surprise assault on Israel on October 7, killing at least 1,400 people and taking some 200 Israelis and foreigners captive.
Israel responded by declaring war and launching a relentless bombardment of the territory, which is home to about 2.3 million people.
At least 7,326 Palestinians have been killed in the attacks.