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Scuffle breaks out among activists during Gaza cease-fire debate at City Hall

Scores of activists packed City Hall Monday to push San Francisco lawmakers to pass a resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza.
Activists packed San Francisco City Hall on Monday to speak on a resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza. | Source: Gina Castro/The Standard

Tensions between demonstrators speaking on the Israel-Hamas war reached a boiling point on Monday when an altercation broke out in the hallway of San Francisco City Hall.

The incident occurred as lawmakers debated sending a “sustained cease-fire” resolution to the full Board of Supervisors for a vote.

As attendees were waiting in line for the public comment portion of the hearing, an unidentified woman appeared to pull down the mask of one demonstrator, turn and then strike another with her hand before San Francisco sheriff’s deputies intervened to defuse the situation, a video posted to X showed.

In a post recounting the incident, Jewish Voice for Peace Bay Area claimed that the woman seen striking other attendees was a member of the Jewish Community Relations Council, a Jewish advocacy group.

When reached for comment, Jewish Community Relations Council CEO Tyler Gregory told The Standard the woman in question was not affiliated with his organization. Gregory said the council “condemns acts of intimidation and violence under any circumstances.”

Gregory speculated that the woman involved in the altercation felt threatened because she was surrounded by cease-fire activists. He reiterated that he was not present during the incident and did not support her actions.

In videos of the events leading up to and during the altercation, people can be heard chanting, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”—a slogan that is interpreted by many Palestinian activists as an aspirational call for peace and equality. To some in the Jewish community, like Gregory, it has violent connotations.

Jewish Voice for Peace did not immediately respond to The Standard’s request for comment.

A spokesperson for the Sheriff's Department said deputies overheard a commotion and intervened after From the River to the Sea chants offended a pro-Israel group member. The pro-Israel individual pulled on the face mask of a pro-Palestinian group member, the department said.

The pro-Palestinian protester who was interfered with then declined to press charges but asked that the pro-Israel person be removed from the building. Deputies removed the individual and warned them not to return that day. The instructions were followed and no one was detained, the department said.

Kevin V. Nguyen can be reached at knguyen@sfstandard.com