(WASHINGTON) — More than 30 people were arrested on Monday afternoon outside the White House, the Secret Service said, after they crossed barriers and blocked entrances to the complex during protests by far-left Jewish groups calling for an end to the intensifying Israel-Hamas war.
Those who were arrested are accused of unlawful entry or incommoding and were transferred to the local police for processing, a Secret Service spokesperson said.
The agency doesn’t typically identify arrestees and didn’t name those taken into custody on Monday. Washington police did not immediately respond to questions about the arrests.
Hamas, a Palestinian political and militant group, launched a terror attack on Israel on Oct. 7 that included numerous rocket launches and a ground invasion, according to Israeli officials.
Israel has since undertaken a sweeping military operation in response, including strikes on Gaza, the blockaded Palestinian territory next to Israel that Hamas controls.
More than 1,400 people have died in Israel and more than 2,700 people have died in Gaza, according to the Israeli and Palestinian health authorities.
Monday’s demonstrators were organized by two groups, IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace. They marched from Farragut Square to the White House.
Hundreds of people gathered outside the White House, with some carrying signs like “Jews say: Ceasefire now,” “My grief is not your weapon,” “No to war no to apartheid” and “Stop genocide in Gaza.”
The Anti-Defamation League, a leading Jewish group that combats antisemitism and other discrimination, has labeled Jewish Voice for Peace as “radical” and “anti-Israel,” with views that fall outside the “mainstream Jewish community.”
Israel has long maintained it has the right to self-defense against attacks from Hamas and others and that it takes steps to limit civilian casualties. Israeli leaders have also challenged claims they pursue legalized discrimination against Palestinians.
Still, international observers have criticized Israel’s military for not affording more time for civilians to leave Gaza amid its military operations against Hamas and the U.N. has repeatedly pleaded for aid to be allowed into the region.
Two Jewish demonstrators outside the White House on Monday said they traveled from New York and told ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Selina Wang that President Joe Biden’s handling of the crisis has been “shameful” and “catastrophic,” and they slammed Israel’s conservative government.
One of the protesters said that the continued conflict “will not keep our family safe. We do not believe this will keep our community safe.”
“We are here fighting for Jewish survival and Palestinian survival,” she added.
Eva Borgwardt, IfNotNow’s political director, said that the protesters wanted an “immediate ceasefire and de-escalation of the current crisis” that included Israel’s military ending its operations in response to Hamas.
“We are here because we see our futures and our safety as intertwined. … Everyone is grieving. Everyone is terrified. It is so clear that the status quo is completely unsustainable. And thousands, hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of lives lie in the balance,” Borgwardt said.
Yotam Marom, a founding member of IfNotNow, said that “we didn’t come here to get arrested. We came here to stop them from doing what they’re doing. And if they want to arrest us, that’s up to them.”
Biden has given his vocal support for Israel in the wake of Hamas’ attack. But he said on CBS News’ 60 Minutes on Sunday that Israel potentially occupying Gaza as part of an invasion targeted at Hamas would be a “big mistake.”
He has also expressed dismay at the “humanitarian crisis” in Gaza.
“What happened in Gaza, in my view, is Hamas,” Biden said on 60 Minutes, “and the extreme elements of Hamas don’t represent all the Palestinian people.”
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