Thousands are set to protest in New York City on Friday evening to demand an Israeli ceasefire in Gaza in what organizers predict will be a “massive” demonstration, organized by anti-Zionist group Jewish Voice for Peace.
The group is anticipating thousands of members and allies to gather in Midtown, Manhattan, to stage a sit-in and act of civil disobedience. Jewish Voice for Peace’s New York City chapter expects rabbis and state lawmakers to be in attendance, as well as celebrities who signed a recent letter calling for a ceasefire, including actress and model Indya Moore.
If the protest goes as planned, the group says that it will be the largest act of civil disobedience in New York City in 20 years.
“In the last two weeks, over 7,000 Palestinians and 1,400 Israelis were killed. Every bomb dropped on Gaza threatens the lives of 2.2 million Palestinians in Gaza and 200 Israeli hostages. The only way to save lives [is] through an immediate ceasefire,” the group wrote in a press release.
The protest comes as Israeli forces intensified their bombardment of Gaza on Friday, launching a huge number of strikes on Northern Gaza that some are saying are the biggest yet. Around the same time, the Palestine Telecommunications Company announced a “complete” collapse of cellular, landline and internet services in Gaza due to the strikes, and the Israeli military appears to be set for a ground invasion.
At the demonstration on Friday, Jewish faith leaders plan to hold a Shabbat service to affirm the Jewish principle that every life is precious, or B’tselem Elohim, according to the release.
Jewish Voice for Peace has staged several actions across U.S. cities in the past weeks. Last Wednesday, the group staged a huge protest in front of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., with the group estimating that 10,000 protesters attended. Five hundred protesters were arrested during that demonstration after protesters entered the Capitol rotunda holding signs demanding a ceasefire.
Roughly 50 protesters, backed up by 500 marching supporters, blocked rush hour traffic in Chicago on Monday in order to call for a ceasefire. The protest was organized by a coalition of Jewish groups, including Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow. Similar protests have been staged in places like Philadelphia and Minneapolis, while college students at over 100 college campuses across the country walked out in a protest on Wednesday.
The protest is being staged as a direct response to a resolution passed by the U.S. House on Wednesday affirming the U.S.’s staunch support for Israeli forces as they undertake a genocide in Gaza. The resolution — which never once mentions the Israeli military’s mass slaughter of Palestinians over the past weeks and decades — stokes further violence in the region by pledging U.S. support for Israel’s military efforts.
The resolution passed 412 to 10, with only nine Democrats, including members of the progressive “Squad,” voting “no,” and several others voting “present.”
According to the Gaza health ministry, Israeli forces have killed an estimated 7,326 Palestinians and wounded another 18,967 since the Hamas-led insurgency on October 7.
Meanwhile, the Israeli army is preparing for a ground invasion of Gaza and announced on Thursday that it entered the region for the third time in 24 hours. On Friday, the Israeli military said that their ground forces are “expanding their activity” in the region.
Using genocidal language, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant warned of an invasion soon, appearing to pledge to eliminate Palestinians from the region entirely: “We are in decisive moments. This is a war for our home and we will win it. It’s either us or them.”
POST-PUBLICATION UPDATE: This mass direct action took place at Grand Central Station, including large rallies inside and outside the station, as well as a mass arrest of participants in the sit-in. Jewish Voice for Peace estimated that “thousands of Jewish Voice for Peace-New York City members and allies” took part in the action and that “over 300 people, including Indya Moore, Laura Poitras, and elected officials from the New York state assembly and senate, as well as the city council” joined rabbis in facing arrest for civil disobedience demanding ceasefire. Photos and videos of the rally inside Grand Central Station and of sit-in participants being arrested show the large scale of the event.
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