NEW YORK — The NYPD will ramp up patrols across New York City this weekend to brace for mass protests and potential violence stemming from the war between Israel and Hamas, officials said.
NYPD officers on Wednesday were ordered to “perform duty in uniform” and be “prepared for deployment” at a moment’s notice, according to an internal department memo shared with the New York Daily News.
“No excusals will be granted on any platoon,” the memo read, adding that all in-service training sessions scheduled for Friday and the weekend have been suspended.
The extra precautions were ordered a day after former Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal called on Palestinians to conduct a global “day of action” on Friday. He asked Palestinian supporters to “show anger” and “send a message of rage to Zionists and America,” which some see as a call to violence against Jews and Jewish supporters in the U.S.
“Tribes of Jordan, sons of Jordan, brothers and sisters of Jordan… This is a moment of truth and the borders are close to you, you all know your responsibility,” Meshaal said during an interview with Hamas’ Aqsa TV outlet.
Hamas has also called for a “day of general mobilization” to be held on Friday. Protesters, they said, should “shake the ground beneath the feet of the Zionist invaders and their settler gangs.”
The calls for action come as Israel vowed to escalate its attacks against Hamas as the Israeli war enters its second week.
On Wednesday night, police responded to two acts of violence against Palestinians in Brooklyn, including an incident in which an 18-year-old Palestinian man was attacked by a group of men waving Israeli flags.
At Columbia University, a 19-year-old was arrested for striking an Israeli student in the head with a stick during an argument over posters hung on the campus bearing the names and pictures of people held hostage by Hamas.
In a message to members of NYPD Shield, an organization that links the Police Department to commercial businesses throughout the city, the department said that Meshaal’s call to action is “not indicative of any specific or credible threats of violence to New York City or the broader U.S. homeland.”
“However, these latest statements have the potential to resonate and spark reactions and explosive violence, warranting elevated vigilance on the part of law enforcement personnel,” the department said. “The NYPD has planned enhanced protective deployments out of an abundance of caution at large gatherings, cultural sites and houses of worship among other locations to ensure public safety and security.”
Deputy Commissioner of Intelligence & Counterterrorism Rebecca Weiner said Thursday that Hamas’ calls to actions “are not new.”
The increased patrols are about “deterrents and reassurance,” she said on Fox 5’s Good Day New York.
“This isn’t done because we anticipate violence or because we are anticipating an imminent threat,” she said. “This is really about making sure people feel safe, feel supported and can go about their daily lives.”
Weiner did admit that the NYPD has seen “tensions flaring up.”
“People have heated emotions, but we don’t see violence,” she said, adding that her team is poring over social media posts to check for credible threats. Most of the posts, she said, are “noise.”
“There’s a lot of noise out there and we have to remind people, ‘Don’t get sucked in,'” she said.
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