Man charged for hitting Gaza protester with car in Manhattan

Two protesters, including woman hit by car, arrested and charged with criminal mischief in New York

Graig Graziosi
Wednesday 08 May 2024 22:48 BST
Related video: Several arrests as protesters march in New York City against Rafah incursion

A man has been charged with assault after he allegedly hit a Gaza protester with his car on the Upper East Side of Manhattan on Tuesday, according to police.

Reuven Kahane, 57, was reportedly arguing with demonstrators from the group around 9am when he drove his car into 55-year-old Maryellen Novak. Demonstrators allegedly reacted by hitting Mr Kahane's car.

Mr Kahane has been charged with second-degree assault, the New York Times reports.

Ms Novak was taken to Weill Cornell Medical Center where she was treated for minor injuries. She was later arrested and charged with criminal mischief and unlawful assembly.

A second protester involved in the argument, John Rozendaal, 63, was also arrested and charged with criminal mischief.

Mr Kahane faces arraignment on Wednesday morning. He has been released without bail.

Pro-Palestinian and Pro-israel face off in front of the entrance of Columbia University which is occupied by Pro-Palestinian protesters in New York on April 22, 2024.
Pro-Palestinian and Pro-israel face off in front of the entrance of Columbia University which is occupied by Pro-Palestinian protesters in New York on April 22, 2024. (AFP via Getty Images)

The Manhattan District Attorney's Office declined to prosecute the protesters, according to a statement.

Sara Shulevitz and Mindy Meyer, attorneys representing Mr Kahane, said that there was more to the story and that they were "confident that our client will be exonerated of all charges".

The protesters were among 25 people protesting Israel's actions in Gaza near 755 Park Avenue, according to police. The group was reportedly leaving the area when Mr Kahane became embroiled in a "verbal dispute" with two members of the group.

Student protesters from Columbia University Apartheid Divest, which was part of the protest, rejected the official police account of the incident. They issued a statement claiming that Mr Kahane drove up to the demonstrators and asked for a flier before grabbing the arm of a demonstrator.

They said that as they were leaving, Mr Kahane allegedly "circled the block to drive into our peaceful demonstration," which is when he hit Ms Novak.

The group said Ms Novak was the second member of their group in a week to have been assaulted and the fourth to be hospitalised since they have begun demonstrating.

Mr Rozendaal told the Times that he was assisting student protesters as a de-escalator, and that his job was "keeping people safe" during demonstrations.

He said that the group was approached by individuals who were "really, really angry" that they were protesting Israel.

“It was a challenge during those two hours to have compassion for everybody on the scene because anger comes from fear and it doesn’t come from nowhere,” he told the Times. “But it also felt like it was making people unsafe.”

The incident comes on the heels of a numerous crackdowns on Gaza protesters at New York City universities.

Students protesting Israel at Columbia University kicked off a near two-week protest movement at universities around the world. Students set up encampments on campus and defied dispersal orders from school officials.

Protests have continued in New York City in the wake of the campus protests. On Tuesday, the NYPD said it took 45 protesters into custody after Gaza demonstrators gathered outside the Fashion Institute of Technology, CBS News reports.

That demonstration began in Union Square and proceeded to the FIT facility in response to Israel's incursion into the Gaza city of Rafah, where Palestinians fled in hopes of finding safety.

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