7 pro-Palestinian protesters arrested during Rockefeller Center tree lighting in New York

NEW YORK CITY (WPVI) — The lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree went off without a hitch Wednesday night, despite a handful of arrests made during a pro-Palestinian demonstration nearby.

A crowd of at least 500 pro-Palestinian demonstrators unfurled a large Palestine flag and briefly tried to push its way towards the tree, where a line of police and barricades were waiting.

Stopped in its tracks, the group then reversed course, resulting in a crush of people, scuffles and seven arrests.

Six adults and one juvenile were arrested. Misdemeanor charges are expected against several of the adults, the rest will receive summonses.

The group then marched southbound on Sixth Avenue.

The protests were expected but the NYPD still encouraged families to come out, saying they wouldn’t allow any demonstrations to disrupt the celebration.

In fact, thousands of people came to Midtown Manhattan for a chilly but joyous evening as the 80-foot-tall Norway spruce was lit for the holiday season.

Ahead of the celebration, the NYPD prepared for the increased possibility of security threats.

Officials said there was a precedent when it comes to terrorist activity and holiday-related events or mass gatherings.

According to an NYPD threat assessment obtained by ABC News, “The U.S. continues to face a heightened and dynamic risk environment from a variety of extremists amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict and malicious actors may view mass gatherings, iconic locations and high-profile events as targets of opportunity during the holiday season.”

The planned protests that developed Wednesday night called for demonstrators to “flood the tree lighting in support of Gaza.”

“We allow people to exercise their first amendment, but by no means do we allow anyone to come out here to do hate, crime or assault,” said NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell.

Street closures around Rockefeller Center also went into effect Wednesday. Cars will not be permitted on streets around Rockefeller Center between 11 a.m. and 12 a.m. every day, opening up the cross streets on East 51st and 48th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues to pedestrians to view the tree and enjoy the other festive sites this holiday season.

Those changes will remain in effect through New Year’s Day.

Fifth Avenue will also be fully open to pedestrians between 48th and 59th on the first three Sundays in December.

Again, given the amount of people that were expected in the area Wednesday and throughout the season, the NYPD still says there’s no specific or credible threat but it’s important to be vigilant.

Police say after protesters were arrested at the Thanksgiving Day parade last week, they’re prepared for any possible disruptions.

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