In the wake of a call for protests by a former Hamas leader, heightened security measures are being implemented across several American cities this Friday. While officials in most cities have not reported any credible threats thus far, the rising tension between Israel and Hamas militants has spurred this preventive action.
Various rallies are set to take place nationwide, both in support of Israel and Palestinians. This wave of anticipated unrest follows the exceptional attack on Israel by Hamas last weekend, as well as Israel’s subsequent war declaration.
The crux of the security apprehensions lies in a video message from former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, urging the Muslim community to demonstrate their resentment on Friday. Even though the call does not explicitly incite violence, the underlying tone aligns with past messages from Hamas advocating protests and rallying the Arab and Islamic world in unity.
“There’s no current intelligence indicating any active threats across New York,” assured Governor Kathy Hochul at a recent news conference, with New York City Mayor Eric Adams reiterating her sentiment. The Mayor urged New Yorkers, particularly Jewish citizens and other groups, to be aware but assured them of no specific threats against the city in view of scheduled large-scale protests.
Despite this, the NYPD has taken a proactive stance, ramping up its presence in certain areas. Acknowledging the anxiety caused by online posts, the department has enhanced uniform deployments at large gatherings and cultural venues, citing an “abundance of caution” as efforts to ensure public safety.
In an unusual move, the NYPD has instructed all personnel, irrespective of rank and assignment, to don their uniforms. The directive, apparently sourced from an internal memo obtained by CNN, is seen as a precautionary measure designed to expedite response in possible scenarios of spontaneous events, demonstrations, or marches.
Meanwhile, a sitting New York City Council member was taken into custody Friday morning under charges of criminal possession of a firearm. Inna Vernikov, a Republican council member representing parts of Brooklyn, was photographed with a visible firearm at a pro-Palestinian rally at Brooklyn College. Vernikov, a Jewish woman and ardent supporter of Israel, voluntarily surrendered her firearm and gun license amidst her attorney’s company at the 70th precinct.
In the Sunshine State, Miami-Dade County has partially triggered its emergency operations center as a cautionary response. Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, while noting an absence of specific threats, assured residents of heightened security throughout the community.
Similarly, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department also reported no specific threats but vowed additional patrol checks and outreach to local religious communities to allay their fears amid the uproarious global situation.
As nations watch the warring Middle East with bated breath, officials and law enforcement across the U.S. are doing all they can to ensure the safety and security of their communities, reinforcing the truism that prevention is indeed better than cure.