Anti-Israel protesters sporting ‘intifada’ graffiti hinder access to busy NYC airport

Slow-moving cars, some flying Palestinian flag and featuring text such as ‘f*ck Israel’ and ‘long live the resistance [Hamas],’ converge at JFK

A car bearing the word 'intifada' seen as part of a convoy of vehicles seeking to disrupt operations at JFK airport to protest against Israel, January 1, 2024. (Screenshot/Twitter, Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
A car bearing the word 'intifada' seen as part of a convoy of vehicles seeking to disrupt operations at JFK airport to protest against Israel, January 1, 2024. (Screenshot/Twitter, Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Access to a busy terminal at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport was restricted Monday as anti-Israel protesters converged on the US airport for the second time in a week.

Videos posted online showed heavy traffic and a slow-moving line of cars, some flying Palestinian flags and featuring text on the windows such as “intifada,” “f*ck Israel,” “long live the resistance [Hamas],” according to footage from the convoy.

For Israelis, intifada, literally meaning “uprising” in Arabic, conjures traumatic memories of a mass wave of terror attacks in the early 2000s. The period saw suicide bombings and other terror attacks in Israel that killed hundreds of civilians.

“Stop the genocide” was also displayed on the cars, a refrain of the anti-Israel protesters that is in reference to the ongoing war triggered by Palestinian terror group Hamas on October 7 when thousands of terrorists invaded Israel and killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took another 240 as hostages to the Gaza Strip.

Police at the airport directed a line of cars around a checkpoint. Protesters also had planned to arrive at the airport in Queens, New York, by public transportation.

The New Year’s Day action was the latest in a series of protests around the nation calling for a ceasefire since the Israel-Hamas war broke out.

Protesters rally during the ‘Global Strike for Gaza!’ in support of Palestinians near John F. Kennedy International Airport on January 1, 2024, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (Yuki IWAMURA / AFP)

Last Wednesday, activists brought traffic to a standstill on an expressway leading up to JFK for about 20 minutes. Protesters shut down a major thoroughfare leading to the Los Angeles International Airport on the same day. Dozens were arrested that day.

On Monday afternoon, entry into JFK’s Terminal 4 was temporarily restricted to ticketed passengers, employees and people with what authorities consider a valid reason to be there, such as passenger pickups, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the region’s airports.

Similarly, AirTrain access was temporarily restricted to ticketed passengers and employees.

“The Port Authority, in coordination with our local, state, and federal partners, has deployed safety and security measures to help ensure an uninterrupted travel experience at JFK,” port authority spokesperson Seth Stein said in an email.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey didn’t report any arrests.

City officials had warned people flying out of JFK on Monday, a busy travel day, to get to the airport early because of the protests.

Police said the caravan of cars was later headed to protest outside LaGuardia Airport, also in Queens.

This video still image provided by KABC-TV shows protesters being arrested by Los Angeles police officers on Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2023, near Los Angeles International Airport. Pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel protesters briefly blocked entrance roads to airports in New York and Los Angeles, forcing some travelers to set off on foot to bypass the jammed roadway. (KABC-TV via AP)

Anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian protests have broken out in cities and universities across the United States since the Israel-Hamas war erupted on October 7.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry claims more than 20,000 people have been killed in the Strip during the war, though this figure cannot be verified and does not differentiate between combatants and civilians. Israel says it has killed some 8,500 Hamas operatives.

In New York, pro-Palestinian organizers have responded to the growing death toll in Gaza with escalating actions aimed at disrupting some of the city’s best-known events, including the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and the annual tree-lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Center.

At a news conference last week, New York City Mayor Eric Adams criticized some of the protest organizers’ tactics and suggested police may need to ramp up their response.

“I don’t believe that people should be able to just take over our streets and march in our streets,” he said. “I don’t believe people should be able to take over our bridges. I just don’t believe you can run a city this complex where people can just do whatever they want.”

JTA contributed to this report.

Most Popular
read more: