A large rally is expected in New York’s Times Square and protests are expected in other cities on Friday afternoon, the first Sabbath since the American Jewish community woke up to news last Saturday of Hamas’s invasion of Israel, which killed at least 1,300 deaths, triggering retaliatory ground attacks and preparations for a ground war in Gaza.
Palestinian supporters around the world gathered on Friday, chanting slogans and waving the region’s red, black and green flags, as hundreds of thousands of Palestinians arrived by car, on foot and on donkeys after Israel ordered the evacuation of more than 1 million people. The car fled the northern Gaza Strip. The United Nations said this could be “catastrophic” amid deteriorating security in the region. According to Gaza’s health ministry, the bombing campaign has killed more than 1,500 people, a third of whom were children, and injured 6,600 others.
Former Hamas leader Khalid Meshaal called Friday a day of global protest against Israeli retaliation against Hamas, tapping into the militant group’s standard call for demonstrations and urging supporters to “give the Zionists and send an angry message to the United States.”
In New York, Mayor Eric Adams (D) said at a security briefing Thursday evening that there were no credible threats to the city but urged people to “remain vigilant” during planned demonstrations. “New York City will do whatever it takes to keep our people safe,” Adams said. According to NBC News, the New York Police Department canceled all training for officers on Thursday and ordered officers to wear uniforms on patrol.
In Washington and neighboring Montgomery County, police said Thursday there was no credible threat in the area but expected increased law enforcement visibility “to help keep our communities safe.” Capitol Police said they would “increase security at the Capitol.” On Friday night, a coalition of organizations plans to hold a “Total Support for Gaza” rally at Franklin Park in downtown Washington to “demand an end to the illegal blockade of Gaza, immediate and uninterrupted humanitarian aid, and an end to all U.S. sanctions on Gaza.” . Provide military funding to Israel,” its announcement said.
In Florida, Republican presidential candidate Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an emergency order on Thursday that took aim at President Biden and empowered DeSantis to call out the National Guard and Florida The powers of the Guard, which was a new security department responsible for responding, were given directly to him. The emergency order details plans to increase security at pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrations, including on campuses.
Oren Siegel, vice president of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, said the organization has tracked at least 140 protests across the United States since Saturday’s attacks, with some protesters glorifying violence and attacks on civilians. He said the protests have been peaceful so far.
Siegel said online threats against Jews have increased 400% since Saturday, a year after the organization received the most anti-Semitic incidents in 40 years. “This is happening at a time when the Jewish community already feels vulnerable,” he said. “This is compounded by the fact that the community is disturbed by what they see and hear in Israel.”
Police in most major Texas cities issued warnings about increased vigilance or patrols in response to calls for Friday’s demonstrations, including Austin, Dallas and Houston. Austin police said they had directed patrols in certain areas of town and put officers on “tactical alert” on Friday. “We have increased visibility around the house of worship and will be ready to respond if further police dispatch is needed,” Dallas police said in a statement, adding that chiefs and commanders have been in contact with religious leaders and have not taken any action. to any notifications. “credible threat” to the region.
North Texas has seen tense armed protests outside mosques in the past but has also been hit by attacks by Muslim extremists, including an attack on a synagogue last year and a 2015 art display of a photo of the Prophet Muhammad. The attack at the exhibition, in which two extremists wounded a security guard before he was arrested. Killed in a police shootout. Faizan Syed, the nonprofit adviser to the Dallas Palestine Coalition, said the Dallas Palestine Coalition has organized multiple protests downtown since the attack, most recently on Sunday, because of concerns about ties to the Middle East Differently, many people will still have to work and deal with increased traffic on Friday.
“Ultimately, we want to make sure that when we protest, the maximum number of members of our community can come out,” Syed said, adding that he had heard of protests planned for this weekend in Chicago, Houston and St. Louis. “There will definitely be nationwide protests this weekend,” he said.
Said, 35, said his group contacted police before the protest and was “taking internal security precautions to make sure there are no altercations.” Said said their protest last Sunday was “extremely peaceful ” as police patrolled between them and six pro-Israel counter-protesters, “hurling insults” and trying to interrupt their speech from across the street. “The atmosphere was tense,” he said.
Saied opposed a Dallas City Council resolution this week endorsing Israel’s war against Hamas and spoke along with several others at Wednesday’s city council meeting. While the council passed the resolution unanimously, Syed said the Dallas mayor has agreed to meet with his group to discuss a resolution “that is more balanced, more equitable and acknowledges the plight and pain of those caught up in this war.” . ”
Both sides are reporting an increasing number of threats, online and otherwise. A shocking phone call Friday made Shaimaa Zayan, Austin community relations coordinator for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, nervous.
“He said all Muslims deserve to die and I have no mercy for any Muslim,” Zayan said shortly after receiving a call from a man she did not recognize. “He was very calm. He wasn’t angry or anything. I said ‘Thank you very much’ and he hung up.”
Zayan said others called her concerned about the attack and whether it would be safe to send their children to school on Friday. “There is fear,” she said. Zayan said she contacted Austin police to ask for more patrols outside the mosque during Friday prayers, but she was unable to reach anyone and could only leave messages.