Hate Crime: 2 US women charged with assault, tearing hostage posters


 Two women have been charged with hate crimes after allegedly attacking a passerby who confronted them while they were tearing down posters of Israeli hostages held in Gaza.

The two suspects, Mehwish Omer and Stephanie Gonzalez, were removing the hostage posters from a street light on the Upper West Side shortly before 10 p.m. on Nov. 9. A 41-year-old woman approached the two women, argued with them and recorded them on her cell phone, police said.

Omer and Gonzalez allegedly physically assaulted the woman, ripping a Star of David necklace off her neck and knocking her phone onto the ground, damaging the device.

The two women fled the scene, leaving the victim with minor injuries to her face and neck. The NYPD’s hate crimes task force investigated the incident.

A man rips off a poster with a picture of a woman and the word ”kidnapped”, as part of a student walkout by students of New York University, in New York City, U.S., October 25, 2023. (credit: REUTERS/SHANNON STAPLETON)

Omer, a 26-year-old resident of the Upper West Side, was charged with assault as a hate crime and criminal mischief as a hate crime on Monday, police said.

Gonzalez, a 25-year-old from Yonkers, was charged on Nov. 20 with attempted robbery and assault as a hate crime.


The deeper attacks behind the posters

The war between Israel and Hamas has led to repeated disputes on New York City streets, mostly verbal. New York City has seen a surge in antisemitic hate crimes since Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking around 240 hostages.

The posters bearing the photos and names of civilians taken hostage by the Gaza terror group, which pro-Israel advocates have spread around the city and elsewhere worldwide, have become a flashpoint, with anti-Israel activists regularly tearing down or defacing the fliers, sparking disputes with passersby.

Last month, a 19-year-old was charged with hate crimes after attacking an Israeli on the Columbia University campus during a dispute over the posters outside the university library.

Other people have lost jobs or faced other repercussions after footage of them tearing down the posters circulated online.

More than 50 Israeli hostages, almost all women and children, have been freed in recent days in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held on security offenses and a pause in the fighting between the two sides.


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