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Police Arrest Hamas Supporters Blocking Entrance to Major California Airport

Pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel protesters blocked morning traffic on Wednesday around Los Angeles International Airport and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport – two of the nation’s busiest – in coast-to-coast demonstrations that ended with dozens of arrests.

The demonstrations stopped cars on the outskirts of New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, where some travelers set off on foot to bypass the jammed roadway, as well as Los Angeles International Airport. Over 60 people were arrested during the two protests, police said.

In New York, activists locked arms and held banners demanding an end to the Israel-Hamas war and expanded rights for Palestinians, bringing traffic to a standstill on the Van Wyck Expressway leading up to the airport for about 20 minutes.

Some of the anti-Israel protesters chanted “from the river to the sea,” a phraseregarded as a call for the destruction of Israel and which Jewish watchdogs call antisemitic. The slogan generally appears as the first half of the chant “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free” — referring to the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, which encompasses Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.

Video posted to social media showed passengers, some carrying suitcases, leaving vehicles behind and stepping over barriers onto the highway median.

Twenty-six people in the protest were arrested for disorderly conduct and impeding vehicular traffic, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey dispatched two buses to help travelers caught in the backup reach the airport, agency spokesperson Steve Burns said.

Around the same time as the New York protest, a major thoroughfare leading to the Los Angeles airport was shut down by another group of pro-Palestinian protesters, who dragged traffic cones, trash bins, scooters and debris into the lanes, according to news helicopter footage.

In a statement, the Los Angeles Police Department accused protesters of throwing a police officer to the ground and “attacking uninvolved passersby in their vehicles,” without providing further details about either incident.

The group appeared to flee when police arrived, though the Los Angeles Police Department said traffic around the airport remained impacted roughly two hours after the demonstration was declared unlawful.

A spokesperson for the LAPD said 35 people were arrested for rioting and one person was arrested for battery of a police officer. No officers were injured, according to the spokesperson. An estimated 215,000 passengers and 87,000 vehicles were expected to pass through the Los Angeles airport on Wednesday.

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, after thousands of Hamas terrorists led a murderous invasion into southern Israel, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took 240 hostages of all ages.

Israel launched a war against Hamas, vowing to destroy the terror group that rules Gaza.

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 8,000 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 Tuesday, 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.

Source: https://www.timesofisrael.com/dozens-arrested-in-anti-israel-protests-at-two-major-us-airports/