US lawmaker says Israeli hostage photos were vandalized in protest

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By Moira Warburton and Kanishka Singh

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Democratic U.S. Representative Brad Schneider's office was targeted by what he called on Friday "a vile act of hate," after pro-Palestinian protesters demonstrated outside his office in the U.S. Capitol building and tore down posters of Israeli hostages held in Gaza.

Schneider, a staunch supporter of Israel, posted a photo of the posters crumpled on the floor.

"This was a shameful act on any day, but especially on July 4, our country's Independence Day," Schneider said on social media. Schneider, who is Jewish, represents a district covering the suburbs north of Chicago, Illinois.

Instagram page "Direct Actions for Palestine" said protesters demanded the lawmaker support restoring U.S. funding for the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) and ending the war. Washington suspended funding to UNRWA after Israel alleged that members of the UNRWA staff had ties to extremist groups, a claim the U.N. said Israel has yet to provide evidence for.

An Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Palestinian Hamas militants killed 1,200 people, while about 250 other people were abducted to Hamas-governed Gaza as hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel's subsequent assault on Gaza has killed over 38,000, according to the local health ministry, flattened most of the enclave and caused widespread hunger.

The U.S. Capitol Police said in a statement that it was "aware and investigating" the incident related to the U.S. lawmaker's office but could provide no further details.

Schneider also said his home was targeted last weekend, with "approximately 50 masked demonstrators banging drums, blowing horns and screaming antisemitic chants" at 2:30 a.m.

Protesters were criticizing Schneider's votes to defund UNRWA, according to the "Direct Actions for Palestine" Instagram page. A clip showed them as saying: "If we don't get no justice, then you don't get no sleep."

The conflict has also led to protests around the United States, Israel's most important ally, over U.S. support for Israel. Rights advocates have noted a rise in antisemitism and Islamophobia.

(Reporting by Moira Warburton and Kanishka Singh in Washington, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Josie Kao)