US Jewish group protests in eight cities for Gaza ceasefire

By Kanishka Singh and Hannah Beier

WASHINGTON/PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – A Jewish group demanding a ceasefire in Israel’s war in Gaza held protests on Thursday in eight U.S. cities on the eighth night of Hanukkah, blocking rush hour traffic on busy streets and bridges in Washington and Philadelphia.

In Washington, the group Jewish Voice for Peace said about 90 protesters blocked the overpass to New York Avenue in the northwestern part of the U.S. capital. Police said the demonstration closed the intersection of New York Avenue and North Capitol Street and urged people to use alternate routes.

“On the 8th night of Hanukkah, 8 cities, 8 bridges,” Jewish Voice for Peace said on X, formerly called Twitter. “We are here, gathering across the country in massive, growing numbers, to say no more.”

Demonstrations also occurred in Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Minneapolis, Seattle and Portland, Oregon.

In Philadelphia, about 200 protesters briefly blocked the I-76 highway, and more than 30 arrests were made, a Reuters witness said. Protesters held signs and banners that read: “Let Gaza Live” and “Not in our name.”

The United Nations on Tuesday demanded an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip where Israel has vowed to annihilate Hamas militants.

The war in Gaza has led to pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli protests in the United States since Oct. 7 when Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that rules Gaza, killed 1,200 Israelis and seized 240 hostages in a cross-border raid.

Since then, Israeli forces have besieged the coastal enclave and laid much of it to waste, with nearly 19,000 people dead, according to Palestinian health officials.

On Wednesday, anti-war activists blocked traffic on a busy Los Angeles highway during the morning rush hour and while some staff from the Biden administration also held a vigil demanding a ceasefire.

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Washington and Hannah Beier in Philadelphia; Editing by Heather Timmons and Cynthia Osterman)