SEATTLE (AP) — Protesters calling for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war blocked northbound traffic on Interstate 5 in Seattle for several hours Saturday.
Additional demonstrators on a nearby overpass cheered in support of the blockade, which began around 1:15 p.m., the Seattle Times reported. The state transportation department said on the social media platform X that traffic at one point was backed up more than 6 miles (9.7 kilometers), and the agency asked drivers to use alternate routes.
Demonstrators chanted “Free, free Palestine” and “Hey hey, ho ho, the occupation has got to go.”
Seattle police posted on social media at 3:40 p.m. that officers gave a dispersal order, though protesters disputed receiving any such orders. Stormy weather, including hail, moved through the area, and protesters left the freeway around 4:45 p.m., according to the Times.
Trooper Rick Johnson with the Washington State Patrol said via X that while people had abandoned the freeway, 12 vehicles were left behind. He said the roadway would reopen when they were towed.
Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel killed around 1,200 people, and some 250 others were taken hostage. It was the worst such attack in Israel’s history.
Since then the Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said Saturday a total of 22,722 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s subsequent assault. The count does not differentiate between combatants and civilians.
Israel has held Hamas responsible for civilian casualties, saying the group embeds itself within Gaza’s civilian infrastructure. Still, international criticism of Israel’s conduct has grown because of the rising civilian death toll.