State and city leaders insist there is no credible threat of organized attacks in New York City, but as the war between Israel and Hamas escalates and large demonstrations are planned for Friday in Times Square, officials remain Stay on “high alert.”
The New York Times reported that Israel overnight ordered some 1.1 million Palestinians in northern Gaza to move south within 24 hours, appearing to prepare for a ground invasion of the territory in response to last week’s Hamas attack. The United Nations urged Israel to revoke the order, saying it could have “devastating humanitarian consequences.”
In New York City, a large protest is brewing in Times Square on Friday afternoon, organized primarily by pro-Palestinian groups, but like Thursday’s protests on college campuses, counter-protests by pro-Israel demonstrators are expected.
The protests began on Friday afternoon and hundreds of police officers were monitoring the event for potential violence. Officials urged non-protesters to avoid the area, which has heavy traffic.
By mid-morning there had been smaller demonstrations. About a dozen pro-Palestinian activists, including members of Muslim advocacy groups and anti-Zionist Jews, gathered outside City Hall just before 10 a.m. to call for an end to the Israeli blockade and ongoing violence in Gaza and criticize the city. President Eric Adams and other politicians continue to align themselves with Israel.
Some passers-by jeered at the group, shouting “Where’s Hamas?” and threatening violence.
National Bar Association lawyer Ramis Dick, who was born and raised in the West Bank, criticized the media for not believing Palestinians.
“Honorable, all of you have eliminated us,” said Dick, a member of the pro-Palestinian group Al-Awda and co-founder of the Palestine Liberation Congress.
At a briefing with reporters Thursday night, Adams said he had ordered the New York City Police Department to deploy additional officers to patrol schools, houses of worship and certain neighborhoods in response to Friday’s protests.
Public schools were open on Friday, but there were reports that some Jewish schools were closed that day and houses of worship were conducting religious services remotely. There are currently no plans to close roads due to the protests, according to the NYPD.
MTA officials said enforcement will be more visible and even plainclothes officers will be required to wear uniforms.
“We are more visible and more prepared than ever,” MTA Chairman Janno Lieber said Friday at Grand Central Terminal. “To emphasize, not only do we have the NYPD and the MTA Police Department, but also Governor Hochul State Police and the National Guard will also be present at major transportation facilities today as part of the operation.”
Concerns about violence and unrest in the city grew on Thursday after the former leader of Hamas called for demonstrations around the world in support of the Palestinians. Sporadic low-level violence between Jewish and Muslim New Yorkers has also put the city on edge, prompting the mayor to join Gov. Kathy Hochul, the NYPD and other officials on Thursday to stress that the city has not Face specific, credible threats.
As of Friday morning, the NYPD said that was still the case and security measures would proceed as planned.
New Jersey officials were also prepared for unrest, but like New York, they said there was no credible threat.
In Jersey City, Nagwa Salah, an Egyptian clerk at Al Amana supermarket, expressed anger at the ongoing violence overseas and media coverage in the United States and Europe.
“We need peace,” Salah said with tears in his eyes on Friday. “What about the Palestinians? This is their land. This is their history.”
On his way out of the Greenville shul in Jersey City, Joseph Weiss deplored Hamas’ violence.
“It’s a very sad thing – what we’re witnessing… I mean, I don’t remember anything like this in history,” Williamsburg resident Weiss said Friday. “The way they behave, the way they kill people.”
Rabbi Ben Feuerwerger, who also walked out of the Greenville shul, said New Jersey’s heightened security gave him “hope that everything is going to be okay.”
“What happened last Saturday is very, very sad, so many men, women, children, elderly people were killed and the danger is not over yet,” Fairweg said.
“The city will do whatever it takes to keep our people safe,” Adams said Thursday night.
Hochul said she was directing state troopers to work with the New York Police Department to provide security around a range of locations, including synagogues and cultural institutions. She said she also asked the National Guard to patrol major transportation hubs. Despite ordering increased police presence, the governor urged New Yorkers to return to normal life.
Elizabeth King and Stephen Nathan contributed reporting.
This is a developing story and has been updated.