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Protesters Briefly Block Highway 101 in SF, Call for End to War in Gaza

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A crowd carrying signs blocks half a roadway, with cars backed up on the other side of the divider.
Protesters, calling for a cease-fire, briefly blocked the Highway 101 entrance ramp. (Kathryn Styer Martínez/KQED)

Over 1,000 protesters gathered in downtown San Francisco on Monday to call for an immediate cease-fire in Israeli attacks on Gaza and to demand President Biden end U.S. military aid to Israel.

The crowd marched from Civic Center Plaza to the Highway 101 entrance ramp at Market Street and Octavia Boulevard. The entrance to 101 was blocked for about 30 minutes starting around 1:45 p.m. by protesters and CHP. Back-up officers from the San Francisco Police Department arrived shortly after 2 p.m., and the crowd soon began to disperse peacefully.

“On President’s Day, we’re not here to celebrate our president. We are here to continue to demand that he calls for an immediate and permanent cease-fire, that he stops the genocide and that ultimately he has the power to do this,” said Lujain Al-Saleh of the Arab Resource & Organizing Center.

This is the latest in a number of pro-Palestine protests throughout the Bay Area that come as Israel has announced an impending military campaign in Rafah, a city in the southernmost region of the Gaza Strip, where some 1.4 million Palestinians have sought refuge, many of whom have fled from elsewhere within the region. A top United Nations official last week warned of a “slaughter” if Israel follows through with its plans to attack the city, and President Biden has said he’s pushed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “not proceed” without a plan to protect civilians.

Last Wednesday, about two dozen activists also halted traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge for approximately 20 minutes. According to officials, no arrests were reported on the Golden Gate Bridge or out of Monday’s march.

“We say ‘not in our name’ means never again for anyone, and right now it means never again for Palestinians,” said Ellen Brodsky from Jewish Voice for Peace, which was one of the supporting organizations of Monday’s action.

This follows much larger protests on the Bay Bridge back on Nov. 16, which stopped traffic for several hours during the morning commute and resulted in about 80 arrests. There have also been a growing number of cities in the Bay Area considering cease-fire resolutions since the start of the war back in October, when approximately 1,400 Israelis were killed and over 240 were taken hostage in the initial attacks. According to the Gaza Health Ministry, more than 29,000 Palestinians have now been killed and millions displaced in the response.

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