Hundreds of Jewish activists protested inside the Capitol on Wednesday, demanding a ceasefire in Gaza. And just as quickly, Capitol Police began arresting them.
The Jewish-led protest involved thousands more protesting outside the Capitol, as well as about two dozen rabbis leading a prayer inside the halls of Congress. Organizers of the event estimated that 500 protesters were arrested, including the rabbis.
Activists inside the Capitol rotunda brought signs emblazoned with such slogans as “Jews say ceasefire now” and “Mourn the dead, and fight like hell for the living.” Those gathered frequently broke out into chants, proclaiming, “Not in our name.”
Capitol Police arrested the protesters, citing rules forbidding demonstrations inside congressional buildings.
Wednesday’s protest action, which kicked off at noon local time, was organized by a coalition of groups, including Jewish Voice for Peace and IfNotNow.
“Our movement will stop the genocide,” read one post from IfNotNow on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Our movement will end apartheid. Our movement will win freedom, equality, and safety for all.”
Outside the Capitol, several Jewish leaders, as well as Representatives Cori Bush and Rashida Tlaib, gave speeches demanding a ceasefire in Gaza. Representative Ayanna Pressley also later expressed solidarity with the protesters. All three progressives are part of a small coalition of House Democrats who have introduced a congressional resolution demanding “an immediate de-escalation and ceasefire in Israel and occupied Palestine.”
Dozens of Jewish activists were also arrested during a protest outside the White House on Monday. IfNotNow and Jewish Voice for Peace, which organized that protest as well, demanded that President Joe Biden force a ceasefire.
The latest round of violence in this conflict began when Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel earlier this month, killing hundreds of Israelis and taking dozens hostage. Israel has responded with a bombing campaign, as well by limiting the occupied Gaza Strip’s water, food, and electricity. The U.N. estimates that more than 3,000 Palestinians and 1,300 Israelis have died thus far.
This article has been updated.