Israel-Hamas cease-fire holds as both sides claim victory
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A Jewish man who was beaten by a mob as Israeli and Palestinian supporters clashed in Midtown Thursday evening suffered a concussion — and said he now has to “second guess wearing a yarmulke in public.”
Joseph Borgen, 29, an accountant from the Upper East Side, said he was walking to the rally when multiple people ganged up on him on Broadway near West 49th Street.
“There was a rally at this location last week, which I had gone to,” Borgen told The Post. “I wore a yarmulke last week, and nothing big happened. I showed up for the same rally this week. I got off the subway at 6:30 and started walking to the rally, and before I could even make it to the rally, a few blocks away, a guy started chasing me.”
“I tried to get away, and the next thing I knew, I was surrounded by a whole crowd of people who proceeded to kick me, punch me, beat me down,” he recalled. “I felt a liquid being poured on my face and at first I thought I was getting urinated on, but it tuned out I was getting maced and pepper-sprayed. My face was on fire. That pain was worse than the concussion and all this other stuff that followed.”
In the attack, captured on video, Borgen was knocked to the ground by a group of five or six men who allegedly made anti-Semitic statements, punched, kicked, pepper-sprayed and struck him with crutches.
After what felt like four minutes of getting beaten, cops broke it up, Borgen said. An ambulance took him to Bellevue.
“I have a concussion,” Borgen said. “I had an X-ray on my wrist. It’s not broken but it’s messed up. Every time I move it it’s in pain, probably sprained. I have bruises all over my body. I have a black eye. My face is banged up. I’m just sore all over my body. They were kicking me in my ribs, my stomach.”
Police searched the area and took a 23-year-old Waseem Awawdeh, of Bay Ridge, into custody, cops said.
He was charged with assault as a hate crime, gang assault, menacing, aggravated harassment as a hate crime and criminal possession of a weapon, police said.
The other suspects remain at large.
Borgen said he went to the demonstration “solely with the intention of standing side-by-side with my fellow Jews or whoever supports Israel.”
“I’ve heard of waves of hate increasing through the city, and maybe I was a little naive to think it would never happen to me,” he said. “There are numerous minority groups that are currently under attack. I’ve been in New York for my entire life and I would never in a million years have thought that it would get to this point where I would have to second guess wearing a yarmulke in public.”
Police Commissioner Dermot Shea condemned the attack in a strongly worded Friday tweet.
“There is NO place for hate of ANY kind, against ANY group, by ANYONE in NYC,” the top cop said. “This, and every incident, will be fully investigated by @NYPDHateCrimes — as they always do. This is a time for NYers to come #together, to be New Yorkers above all else.”
The incident came about a half-hour before a firework was flung from a pickup truck full of Palestinian flag-waving protesters — landing near a 55-year-old woman, who was burned.
At least 26 people were arrested during the protest.
Skirmishes between the groups erupted in the Midtown tourist hub as Israel and Hamas hoped a cease-fire in Gaza would end more than 10 days of devastating hostilities.
An Upper East Side teenager said he was beaten up by pro-Palestine protesters after he had his Isreali flag yanked away at the demonstration, telling The Post he was hospitalized with a concussion and injured jaw after the attack.
“They surrounded me, and by the time I realized what was happening, I was punched in the face twice, once in the jaw and once in the temple,” the 17-year-old boy said, adding that, “This is another example of a rise in hate crimes in New York City, especially anti-Semitism.”
The teen, who asked not to be publicly identified, said he thinks police should have been quicker to separate the feuding factions.
“Obviously tensions are high between Israelis and Palestinians and there should have been a better police presence to keep the sides separated,” he told The Post.
“It was a mess. It was a nauseating scene.”
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