NEW YORK (WPIX) — Thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators gathered in Times Square on Friday as Hamas’s former leader called on Muslims to rally in support of the militant group as the war with Israel enters its seventh day.
Khaled Meshaal, who led Hamas until 2017, called for mass protests around the world in a recorded statement sent to Reuters.
“(We must) go to the squares and streets of the Arab and Islamic world on Friday,” Meshaal said.
He continued, “For all scholars who preach jihad for God, who preach warriors and martyrs, for all who teach and learn, this is a moment of application (theory), so that words are not just words.”
Earlier Friday, the “CUNY Palestine Rally and March” was held at Baruch College. Protesters then marched to Times Square to participate in the “International Day of Action on Palestine.”
The New York City Police Department has increased security in the city due to the protests. According to the NYPD’s top intelligence, there is no credible threat at this time.
On Friday, Palestinians fled northern Gaza on orders from Israel. The order applies to about 1 million people, about half of Gaza’s population.
Israel is expected to launch a ground offensive against Hamas, the ruling militant group in Gaza.
The United Nations called on Israel to revoke the order, saying a mass withdrawal could have catastrophic consequences.
More than 2,800 people have been killed on both sides of the conflict, including at least 27 Americans. White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Thursday that the number of missing Americans had risen to 14.
This story includes reporting from The Associated Press.
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