Police detain pro-Palestinian demonstrators inside San Francisco building housing Israeli Consulate

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Police on Monday detained pro-Palestinian demonstrators who occupied the lobby of a San Francisco building that houses the Israeli Consulate.

It was not immediately clear how many people were detained but an Associated Press journalist saw police zip-tie the hands of at least a dozen people. Officers then put them in a police van and drove them away.

A group of pro-Palestinian demonstrators entered the building and occupied it for several hours Monday. The protesters posted signs on the front doors of the building calling for an end to the Israel-Hamas war.

Police officers made multiple warnings ordering the demonstrators to leave before they moved in and started detaining people, the San Francisco Police Department said in a statement. They did not specify how many people were detained.

Consul General of Israel to the Pacific Northwest Marco Sermoneta said the protesters arrived around 9 a.m. at the Financial District’s high-rise but didn’t enter the consulate’s offices. He said his office was telling people that they might need to change their appointments.

San Francisco police officers were standing 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. By 11:45 a.m, about six San Francisco police vehicles could be seen parked around the corner from the consulate, along with about six other officers and a San Francisco Fire Department ambulance waiting.

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

Israel has faced growing international criticism for its strategy of systematic destruction in Gaza, at a huge cost in civilian lives. Israeli bombardments and ground offensives in the besieged territory have killed more than 36,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians.

The top United Nations court has concluded there is a “plausible risk of genocide” in Gaza — a charge Israel strongly denies.

Olga R. Rodriguez And Haven Daley, The Associated Press