2 US women indicted for assaulting woman who filmed them removing Gaza hostage fliers

Mehwish Omer and Stephanie Gonzalez charged with hate crimes after ripping off passerby’s Star of David necklace in NYC’s Upper West Side on Nov. 9

Luke Tress is a JTA reporter and a former editor and reporter in New York for The Times of Israel.

Posters of Israeli hostages in New York City's Union Square subway station, October 16, 2023. (Luke Tress/ JTA)
Posters of Israeli hostages in New York City's Union Square subway station, October 16, 2023. (Luke Tress/ JTA)

New York Jewish Week via JTA – Two US 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 by terrorists in Gaza.

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

Omer and Gonzalez allegedly assaulted the woman, ripping a Star of David necklace off her neck and knocking her phone to 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.

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 November 20 with attempted robbery and assault as a hate crime.

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 launched a murderous onslaught on Israel on October 7, slaughtering 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking over 240 hostage.

The posters bearing the photos and names of Israelis taken hostage by the Palestinian 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.

A number of Israeli hostages, almost all women and children, have been freed from Gaza in recent days in exchange for the release of Palestinian prisoners convicted or indicted for terror offenses and a pause in the fighting.

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed
Register for free
and continue reading
Registering also lets you comment on articles and helps us improve your experience. It takes just a few seconds.
Already registered? Enter your email to sign in.
Please use the following structure:
Or Continue with
By registering you agree to the terms and conditions. Once registered, you’ll receive our Daily Edition email for free.
Register to continue
Or Continue with
Log in to continue
Sign in or Register
Or Continue with
check your email
Check your email
We sent an email to you at .
It has a link that will sign you in.