Clashes between pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian demonstrators erupted in Times Square Thursday, hours after a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was announced.
The protesters yelled things such as "kill" Jews, said David Rangini, who works in the Diamond District.
Rangini said he heard some of the pro-Palestinian demonstrators shouting anti-Semitic rhetoric. But he and other witnesses told NY1 the clashes started after several people threw water and juice bottles out of a window at the pro-Palestinian demonstrators. That’s when the two sides starting fighting each other.
“The guy above me seeing him [throw] like three or four bottles in a row," said Mohamed Hamdy, who also works in the Diamond District and witnessed some of the violence. "So they started throwing bottles back at them, which is like a normal reaction."
Police said video shows a Jewish man being violently assaulted during the demonstration.
Police said five to six men approached a 29-year-old man, knocked him to the ground and assaulted him while making anti-Semitic statements. Police said the attackers punched, kicked and peppered-sprayed the man.
On Friday, police announced they arrested 23-year-old Waseem Awawdeh in connection with the attack and charged him with a hate crime. Police are looking for several other individuals.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has also directed the State Police Hate Crimes Task Force to help with the investigation.
"I unequivocally condemn these brutal attacks on visibly Jewish New Yorkers and we will not tolerate anti-Semitic violent gang harassment and intimidation," Cuomo said in a statement. "New York is the vibrant and dynamic home for people from around the world."
Mayor Bill de Blasio condemned the attack, tweeting: “Anti-semitism has NO place in our city. There’s no excuse for violence against someone because of who they are. None. We will bring the perpetrators of this vicious act of hate to justice.”
Fireworks were thrown near West 47th Street and Sixth Avenue, forcing several people to run for cover not knowing at first what had happened.
Police said a woman was hit, an incident that is being investigated as a hate crime.
In total, police said they've arrested about two dozen people. About five NYPD officers suffered minor injuries.