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NYPD hate crime cops investigating Israeli flag thefts as Gaza protests grip NYC

Police released images of several people who they believe were involved in two recent Israeli flag thefts in Manhattan. (NYPD/TNS)

The NYPD is investigating two recent Israeli flag thefts in Manhattan as hate crimes amid pro-Palestinian protests over the Gaza conflict continue to grip the city, officials said Friday.

In one of the two incidents, a Columbia University protester set the flag on fire after a rock was thrown at its owner, police said.

The first incident took place in Midtown on April 12 when two people, one described as a woman in a headscarf, snatched a 19-year-old woman’s Israeli flag as she walked down W. 34th St. near Sixth Ave. around 5 p.m.

The pair ran off with the flag, cops said.

On April 20, during a large protest outside Columbia University that pitted pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrators against each other, a 22-year-old man walking with an Israeli flag past Amsterdam Ave. and W. 116th St. was jumped by a stranger in a hooded sweatshirt and a varsity jacket, cops said.

The man ripped the flag from the victim and ran off.

While the victim chased him another protester chucked a rock at the victim, hitting him in the face.

Another protester then set the stolen flag on fire, cops said.

The victim suffered a minor injury after being struck by the rock, but refused medical attention.

Concern about antisemitism at protests sweeping campuses around the nation has grown in recent days, sparking demands for university officials to act more decisively to dismantle the demonstrations.

Protests at Columbia University and New York University have led to the arrests of more than 200. The State University of New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology saw a small pro-Palestinian encampment pop up Thursday, following a similar demonstration at The New School.

Cops cleared out protesters who formed a tent city on Columbia’s campus on Monday, but the protesters returned. The university had given protesters until midnight Thursday to leave, but then sent out an email around 11 p.m. saying that the NYPD would not be called in to remove the protesters.

Cops on Friday posted images of the crooks in both flag-stealing incidents in the hopes that someone recognizes them. A $3,500 reward has been posted for information about the flag thief in the varsity jacket, cops said.

Anyone with information regarding their identities is urged to call NYPD CrimeStoppers at (800) 577-TIPS. All calls will be kept confidential.


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