The activists broke away from a larger demonstration on the National Mall and sat on the floor in the House Office Building on Wednesday, as a ring of police looked on. Chanting “ceasefire now!” the protesters held banners reading “let Gaza live” and “not in our name.”
Shortly after the protest began, Capitol Police warned the crowd to disperse, before moving in and detaining those who refused to comply. Capitol Police reported that roughly 300 people were arrested.
The demonstration was organized by Jewish Voice for Peace, which claimed that more than 350 people, including 24 rabbis, took part. Outside, the group claimed that up to 10,000 people marched “to challenge the Israeli government’s ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.”
Israel’s air campaign against Hamas militants in Gaza entered its twelfth day on Wednesday. Launched in response to a large-scale attack on Israel by Hamas, Israel’s response has left nearly 3,500 dead and more than 12,000 wounded, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
American officials and lawmakers have overwhelmingly backed the Israeli military response, with President Joe Biden visiting Tel Aviv on Wednesday to demonstrate his country’s solidarity.
Only a handful of Democratic lawmakers have spoken out against the Israeli operation.