A Brooklyn man wearing a Palestinian scarf was arrested this week after getting into a caught-on-video scuffle with locals on the Upper East Side while trying to rip down Israeli hostage posters they were putting up.
Mohamed Khalil, 21, was charged with harassment, disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, and obstruction Tuesday in the incident at 68th Street and Lexington Avenue around 5:30 p.m., when he tried to push past locals who appeared to be posting the leaflets on a utility pole, footage posted on X shows.
"Why are you taking it down?" one man says to Khalil. "Don't touch me. Don't f—ing touch me. I don't give a f–k. Get the f–k outta here. You're a scumbag."
Others in the group get between the pole and Khalil, who is wearing the scarf over his face — a black-and-white checkered garment called a keffiyeh that has become synonymous with the Palestinian cause.
They then push Khalil away, with one woman seen hugging the pole to protect the posters. That's when the cops show up. "You know the reason he's doing it," another resident tells one of the officers. One bystander stood up for him, yelling, "He wasn't doing anything."
"Yes, he was," one of the people in the group responds. "He was ripping the f–ing signs down."
Khalil is placed in handcuffs after briefly scuffling with police. Several people in the group applaud as Khalil is placed in the police vehicle. The NYPD said the incident is now being investigated by the Hate Crimes Task Force as a possible bias incident.
The encounter was among the latest confrontations between pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli residents, with tensions heightened since the surprise attack on Israel by radical Hamas militants on Oct. 7 and the subsequent retaliation by the Jewish State in the Gaza Strip.
The New York Post’s cover page on Thursday criticized anti-Israeli activists after they defaced and vandalized posters.
Some Israeli supporters have taken to displaying posters of the more than 200 Israelis kidnapped by Hamas on Oct. 7, nearly all of them civilians, in a display of solidarity. On Friday, a group of furious construction workers hopped out of their truck to confront a stranger who was tearing down posters of Israeli hostages in Queens.
I'm just a regular guy who didn't like what I saw. It shouldn't be celebrated, what I did, it should be normal. Everyone should react like that," one of the workers, hailed as a hero, said in a video posted on X. "It shouldn't be a news story that someone doesn't like posters of murdered children, kidnapped children, being taken down. This should be the norm – not the exception."
New York City Mayor Eric Adams reacted to the incidents this week. "I am disappointed with what I am seeing on some college campuses," Adams said at a news conference.
"I think it is adding to the problem and not taking away from the problem. I think our college campuses should be doing a better job of really having our young people sit down and have a real conversation about the emotions that they're feeling, what are they seeing, what are they hearing, and have a real conversation around this."