Police arrest pro-Palestinian protesters in Israeli consulate building in San Francisco

San Francisco police have arrested pro-Palestinian protesters who occupied a building that houses the Israeli consulate

SAN FRANCISCO – Police on Monday arrested pro-Palestinian protesters who occupied the lobby of a San Francisco building that houses the Israeli consulate.

It was not immediately clear how many people were arrested, but an Associated Press reporter saw police handcuffing at least a dozen people with zip ties before putting them in a police car and driving away.

A group of pro-Palestinian protesters entered the building on Monday and occupied it for several hours. The protesters attached signs to the building's entrance doors demanding an end to the war between Israel and Hamas.

Police officers repeatedly asked the protesters to leave the building before advancing and beginning to arrest them, San Francisco police said in a statement. It did not say how many people were arrested.

Marco Sermoneta, Israel's consul general in the Pacific Northwest, said protesters arrived at the high-rise in the financial district around 9 a.m. but did not enter the consulate's offices. He said his office had informed people they might have to change their appointments.

San Francisco police officers stood guard outside the building and told an AP journalist that it was not open to the public.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, protesters said they planned to stay until they were “forcibly removed.” At 11:45 a.m., about six San Francisco Police vehicles were seen parked around the corner from the consulate, along with about six other officers and a San Francisco Fire Department ambulance.

Photos and videos of the protesters posted on social media showed people sitting in a circle chanting “Free, free Palestine!”

Israel is facing increasing international criticism for its strategy of systematic destruction in Gaza, which has cost many civilian lives. According to the Gaza Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between fighters and civilians, more than 36,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli bombings and ground offensives in the besieged territory.

The United Nations’ highest court concluded that there was a “plausible risk of genocide” in Gaza – an accusation that Israel strongly denies.