Disabled Take Protests to the Air(Port)

Disabled, handicapped and activists block a road at the entrance to Ben Gurion International Airport Tuesday. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

There was heavy traffic in and around Ben Gurion International Airport Tuesday afternoon, as dozens of disabled Israelis blocked the highway leading into the airport’s main departure terminal. Police said in a statement that they were directing traffic. Airport officials issued a call to travelers to arrive for their flights much earlier than usual, and to take into account the possibility that they would face major traffic delays.

Some 92,000 people – 45,985 outbound, and 45,671 entering the country – are set to pass through Ben Gurion Tuesday, as the summer vacation season reaches its height. Airport officials called on the public to follow instructions and cooperate. “We will do everything possible top ensure that no flights or passengers are delayed.”

In February, after months of intensive protests by disabled groups, the Knesset passed a law that significantly raised benefits for the disabled. After three years, fully disabled Israelis will receive a stipend of NIS 3,700 per month, up from NIS 2,800. While the agreement was accepted by most disabled advocacy groups, several rejected it, and vowed to continue blocking roads and conducting other protests, until the government guaranteed full stipends for even partially disabled individuals.