More than 300 arrested in US House protest calling for Israel-Hamas ceasefire

More than 300 arrested in US House protest calling for Israel-Hamas ceasefire


Protesters with Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow were detained on Capitol Hill while calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. They’ve since been ticketed and released.

Natalie Neysa Alund
 USA TODAYplayShow CaptionHide Caption#videoDetailsToggle{color:var( –color-dove-gray,rgba(0,0,0,.6));cursor:pointer;display:inline-block;font-family:var(–sans-serif,sans-serif);font-size:var(–type-7);font-weight:var( –font-weight-bold,900);line-height:var(–spacer-twentyfour,24px);margin-bottom:-8px}#vdt_hide{margin-bottom:10px}.vdt-flex[hidden]{display:none}.vdt-svg{fill:var( –color-dove-gray,rgba(0,0,0,.6));height:var(–spacer-twentyfour,24px);width:var(–spacer-twentyfour,24px)}Demonstrators protesting Israel-Hamas war arrested at US CapitolHundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters with the group, Jewish Voice for Peace, were arrested at the Capitol while protesting the Israel-Hamas war.

U.S. Capitol Police said Thursday that they arrested more than 300 protesters who held a demonstration inside a U.S. House office building in Washington D.C., over the Israel-Hamas war.

Protesters with Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow were detained on Capitol Hill while calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, a narrow strip of land bordering Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea.

Police reported that the protest broke out at the Cannon House Office Building just before 1:40 p.m. Wednesday and shut down roads outside the building due to the demonstration.

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A group of protesters are demonstrating inside the Cannon Rotunda. Demonstrations are not allowed inside Congressional Buildings. pic.twitter.com/pZHKqSpjoL

— The U.S. Capitol Police (@CapitolPolice) October 18, 2023

Video shows demonstrators wearing black T-shirts reading “Jews Say Ceasefire Now” in white lettering shouting “Ceasefire now!” Other footage shows the group sitting on the Cannon Rotunda floor clapping in unison.

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U.S. House and Senate office buildings are open to the public but protests are forbidden in congressional buildings.

Gaza hospital explosion: How a deadly blast near al-Ahli center unfolded

The Cannon House arrests

Arrests took place in the Cannon Rotunda, police reported.

U.S. Capitol Police spokesman Paul Starks told USA TODAY on Thursday that police arrested 308 people on charges of crowding, obstructing, or incommoding in a forbidden area. They were ticketed and released.

Of those arrested, three people were also charged with assault of a police officer because, Starks said, they resisted arrest.

Starks said police were not aware of any major injuries.

The rotunda was cleared by 5 p.m., police said.

BREAKING: Jews and allies from @jvplive and IfNotNow are in Congress to demand: ceasefire now.

Join us across the country: https://t.co/XOBzCwXVzS https://t.co/ayMkoOy21d

— IfNotNow🔥 (@IfNotNowOrg) October 18, 2023

The war: As war in Israel, Gaza rages on, President Biden is having a moment

The war’s latest death toll

On Oct. 7, a major Jewish holiday, Hamas militants stormed from the blockaded Gaza Strip into nearby Israeli towns. The attack, which killed hundreds of civilians, stunned Israel and caught its military and intelligence apparatus completely off guard.

Israel immediately launched airstrikes on Gaza, destroying entire neighborhoods and killing hundreds of Palestinian civilians in the days that have followed.

As of Thursday, the war’s death toll surpassed 5,000, making the conflict the deadliest of five Gaza wars for both sides. At least 199 people, including children, were captured by Hamas and taken into Gaza, according to Israel.

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The leader of Hamas’ military wing, Mohammed Deif, said in a recorded message that the assault was in response to Israel’s 16-year blockade of Gaza; Israeli raids inside West Bank cities over the past year, violence at at the Al-Aqsa Mosque − built on a contested Jerusalem holy site sacred to Jews as the Temple Mount; increased attacks by settlers on Palestinians; and the expansion of Jewish settlements on occupied lands Palestinians claim for a future state.

The Hamas incursion came on Simchat Torah, a normally joyous day when Jews complete the annual cycle of reading the Torah scroll. Israel declared war the next day.

Previous Israel-Hamas wars were in 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2021.

Israel-Hamas war updates: Biden says Gaza to get aid by Friday; US says Israel not to blame for hospital blast.

Contributing: Jeanine Santucci, the Associated Press.

Natalie Neysa Alund is a senior reporter for USA TODAY. Reach her at [email protected] and follow her on X @nataliealund.

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