Pro-Palestinian protesters shut down 101 Freeway in downtown L.A.

Pro-Palestinian protesters blocked all northbound lanes on the 101 Freeway in Downtown Los Angeles on Monday. The demonstration on the major thoroughfare started at about 4:45 p.m. The protesters walked from Los Angeles Street near City Hall to the nearby 101 Freeway onramp. Cars came to a screeching halt to avoid crashing into the handful of protesters. Several cars swerved by protesters as they walked across the freeway to the center divider.
Pro-Palestinian protesters blocked all northbound lanes on the 101 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles on Monday. (KCAL News)

Dozens of pro-Palestinian protesters briefly shutdown the 101 Freeway in downtown Los Angeles on Monday afternoon.

The protesters blocked traffic as they held Palestinian flags and signs reading "Stop the Genocide" and "End the Occupation Now!" and chanted "Eyes on Rafah!" according to video posted to social media, including by journalist Ben Camacho.

The protest came a day after what appeared to be one of the deadliest attacks in Israel's ongoing war with Hamas.

On Sunday, an Israeli strike on a tent camp housing displaced Palestinians in the southern Gaza city of Rafah killed dozens. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday described the strike as a "tragic mistake" that was under investigation.

Tens of thousands of people — many civilians — have been killed in Gaza since Israel launched its war on Hamas after an assault by Hamas fighters in Israel in October. Large portions of Gaza have been destroyed and cut off from aid, spurring months of protests around the world and across the U.S., including on many college campuses.

The United Nations' top court ordered Israel to halt its assault on Rafah last week.

A Los Angeles Police Department spokesman said Monday that officers were called to monitor a protest downtown about 3 p.m.

"We responded to some protesters walking through the immediate downtown area," LAPD Officer Jeff Lee said. "Initially they started blocking traffic, but then they were up on the sidewalk obeying traffic laws — and that's when they went down onto the freeway."

California Highway Patrol Sgt. Alejandro Rubio said that LAPD alerted the CHP that about 50 protesters had moved onto the freeway near Alameda Street at 4:48 p.m.

However, by the time CHP officers arrived at the scene around 5 p.m., there were no longer any protesters on the freeway, Rubio said.

"They were all on the surface streets," he said.

Lee said LAPD officers continued to monitor protesters in the downtown area afterward.

"We're just going to ensure public safety and the well-being of all individuals," he said.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.