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Giant Palestine flag draped on New York bridge under investigation

By Laila Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City detectives were searching on Thursday for activists suspected of unfurling a massive Palestine flag over the side of an East River bridge during a march in support of Palestinians in Gaza, police said.

The flag, draped over the south side of the Manhattan Bridge between Manhattan and Brooklyn, appeared during a Wednesday evening march organized by Palestine solidarity groups, a spokeswoman for the New York Police Department said.

Online photos of the banner show the phrase "Gaza in our hearts" and the words "boycott, divest, sanction" written in large letters on its black, white, green and red panels.

The flag was a show of support for the Palestinian cause as a six-week offensive by the Israeli military to stop rocket attacks launched into its territory from Gaza resumed after a 10-day cease-fire.

After flapping above the East River for about 20 minutes on Wednesday evening, the flag, about 100 feet long and 50 feet wide, was removed by police.

An investigation of the incident is ongoing and no arrests have been made, police said.

A recent posting on the "March for Palestine Facebook Page" discussed plans for the flag raising.

"On August 20th, NYC's diverse communities will march together over the Brooklyn Bridge and cover it with a sea of Palestinian flags," the posting said.

Anne Pruden, a spokeswoman for the International Action Center, one of the activist groups participating in the march, said she did not know who was responsible for the flag.

"We saw it from afar," Pruden said. "It was a beautiful surprise."

Other groups involved in the march could not be reached immediately for comment.

Police said they doubt the Palestinian flag was connected to an incident last month, when two bleached white American flags mysteriously appeared atop the Brooklyn Bridge, just south of the Manhattan Bridge.

That investigation is also ongoing and no arrests have been made, police said.

(Editing by Frank McGurty and Steve Orlofsky)

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