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Hundreds of Anti-Israel Protesters Arrested After Swarming New York Bridges and Tunnel

Hundreds of anti-Israel protesters swarmed three bridges and the Holland Tunnel in Lower Manhattan on Monday morning, creating chaos as they blocked traffic and leading to more than 330 arrests.

Demonstrators from the “Shut it Down for Palestine” rally, whose organizers reportedly included the New York chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, first marched through City Hall Park. Then groups of them descended on the Brooklyn, Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges and tunnel around 9:40 a.m., wreaking havoc as they shut down at least sections of the major travel thoroughfares for more than an hour.

“You can’t do that! It’s against the law!” an agitated motorist yelled at some of the protesters as he tried in vain to make a left onto the Manhattan Bridge from the Bowery, while another man filming the confrontation with his phone shouted, “Hit ’em all! Run ’em over!”

The driver then got out of his vehicle and shoved three of the demonstrators, warning them to stay away from his car as he screamed, “I have a daughter in Brooklyn! … I have to get home!”

The protesters eventually backed off and allowed the driver to cross the river. 

Some of the demonstrators sat down in the middle of major roadways, linking themselves together using zip ties and even cement-filled tires, which forced cops to employ power tools to get them apart.

Protesters also chanted, “NYPD, KKK, IDF they’re all the same!” according to video posted on social media. IDF refers to the Israel Defense Forces.

A group of demonstrators stood in front of the entrance to the tunnel holding signs demanding, “Lift the Siege of Gaza, Ceasefire Now,” as well as “End the Occupation, Free All Palestinian Prisoners, USA Stop Arming Israel,” according to video posted on X.

“Free, free Palestine!” the protesters yelled.

The NYPD took 209 protesters — most of them women — into custody at the spans between Manhattan and Brooklyn, police officials said.

At the Brooklyn Bridge, 94 protesters were apprehended, including 71 women, police said. About 100 demonstrators were blocking traffic there at the peak of the protest, according to officials.

Suspects were photographed at the mouth of the bridge being handcuffed behind their backs with zip ties and corralled onto an out-of-service MTA bus

Officers also arrested 87 protesters — including 64 women — at the Manhattan Bridge, where another hundred people demonstrated, police said. 

The Williamsburg Bridge was the site of 28 arrests and a smaller gathering of 40 demonstrators.

Another 125 arrests were made at the Holland Tunnel by Port Authority Police, where 150 people had blocked traffic to New Jersey, officials said. 

The names and charges of the suspects were not immediately released by police, but many of them will face misdemeanor raps and only receive desk-appearance tickets, cops said.

The groups behind the protest included the New York chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, Jewish Voice for Peace and the Palestinian Youth Movement, Reuters reported.

Mayor Eric Adams said he understood “the pain of innocent lives being lost right now” but questioned the tactics used by pro-Palestinian demonstrators.

“The right to protest does not give one the right to block bridges and tunnels, as we saw this morning,” Adams said. “The goal is to peacefully protest without doing major disruption to the city.”

But Oscar winner Susan Sarandon, who was dropped by her talent agency for making anti-Jewish comments in November, said at the protest, “There’s no place for genocide,” according to footage shared on social media

The 77-year-old Queens native was filmed standing on the Bowery as anti-Israel demonstrators clogged the span. 

A bystander named Allie who got off the M train into the midst of the disruptions chastised the protesters for going too far.

“I would hate to be anyone that was driving to work or dropping their kids to school today. That’s not protesting, that’s chaos,” the straphanger said. 

A 40-year-old man, Louis, said he looked at his GPS before heading into the city and only saw red on his route, so he took the subway.

“Normally, I would say it’s about 35 minutes, 45 minutes on a bad day,’’ he said of his commute across the river. “The GPS said like an hour and a half. That’s more than double. So train it was.”

Asad Bok, 30, who works for the city’s Department of Buildings near the Brooklyn Bridge, said he is Muslim and sympathizes with the Palestinian cause. But other things are “getting out of hand” in New York City and the protesters should focus on those local problems, he said.

“We have much bigger issues here in New York. We have a huge homelessness problem we’re not addressing,” Bok said. “For other countries’ issues [to] affect New York like this, it’s mayhem.” 

Luis Mora, who was delayed trying to make it to his window installation job in Manhattan because of Monday’s protest, agreed. “This is no good. I’m just trying to work, I don’t know what’s going on. I know [in the Middle East] things are very bad and they have problems, but these protests, what can they do?” Mora asked. “They are protesting here, you think it’s going to help things over there?”

A demonstrator named Jerry said the protest was justified to bring attention to Israel’s 3-month-old war on Hamas. The Palestinian terror group attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing more than 1,200 people, many civilians, prompting Israel to launch an offensive that has killed thousands of Palestinians and left a dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

“They’ll call us ‘Hamas supporters.’ Or at the very least call these disruptions ‘violent.’ Inconvenience is not violence,” he said, adding that he hoped the demonstrations would convince US politicians to stop supporting the war.

“The city is spending a lot of money on us,” he boasted. “In our system, all of our elected officials are bought, so there’s a turning point where their support for anything, when it no longer becomes profitable, they flip. And that’s what makes change in this system.”

Joe, a construction worker in the area, said he was glad police were cracking down on those snarling traffic. 

“Yeah I do think they should be arrested — you’re inconveniencing people that have nothing to do with what’s going on over there,” he said. 

Travis, a 32-year-old Brooklyn resident who saw the uptick in police presence near the Williamsburg Bridge, said he was also glad to hear of the arrests. 

“I feel like the penalties for blocking traffic or blocking someone in should be enforced so people  wouldn’t be so keen to protest,” he said.

The Holland Tunnel was reopened for New Jersey-bound traffic just before 10:40 a.m., while all of the bridges reopened by 11:15 a.m., officials said.

A superintendent for a building near the Brooklyn Bridge said he is originally from Ireland and protested for the IRA. He said the Israel-Hamas war is the “same bulls–t” between the Irish and the English. 

The worker, named Gerry, said he doesn’t condone the bridge shutdowns but that he understands why the protesters felt the need to do it.

“I’m not saying it’s right, but if you want people to listen, you need havoc,” Gerry said. “It’s when people start shutting down bridges, breaking glass, smashing things — that’s when people open their eyes.”