As the war between Israel and Hamas continues to escalate, U.S. cities are taking extra precautions to protect Jewish and Muslim communities from potential hate crimes and violence. Authorities in New York City, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and other major cities have boosted security at synagogues, mosques, temples, schools, and other sites associated with these faith groups.
The NYPD ordered officers to report in full uniform on Friday, a law enforcement official confirmed to CBS News. The department also deployed its Critical Response Command and Strategic Response Group to sensitive locations. The move came after Hamas issued a call for a “day of rage” on Friday, which could spark unrest and violence beyond the Middle East.
In Washington D.C., the Metropolitan Police Department said it was monitoring the situation and coordinating with federal partners to ensure public safety. “We have not received any credible threats; however, we encourage our communities to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity,” the department said in a statement.
In Los Angeles, the LAPD said it was aware of the increased tensions and was working closely with local and federal agencies to prevent any incidents. “We are committed to ensuring the safety and security of all our communities, especially during this holy month of Ramadan,” the department said on Twitter.
Homegrown and domestic violent extremists pose a threat
The heightened security measures come amid warnings from law enforcement and intelligence agencies that homegrown and domestic violent extremists could exploit the Israel-Hamas conflict to launch attacks or harassment campaigns against Jewish and Muslim communities in the U.S.
CBS News has reviewed multiple internal bulletins and assessments circulated in the last 48 hours that indicate that actors associated with violent extremist movements outside the conflict zone have called for broader mobilizations since the beginning of the incursion.
One of the bulletins cited a private intelligence analysis by Insikt Group, which describes itself as a team of veteran threat researchers. The report said that violent extremists in North America, Europe, and Australia are likely to plan physical attacks and increase virtual harassment campaigns against Jewish and Muslim communities — as well as entities perceived to be related to them — in the wake of Hamas’ hybrid attack and incursion into Israel and Israel’s military response.
The report also noted that historically, escalations in the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians have triggered violence against Western Jewish communities, targeting houses of worship, community centers, government facilities, and public demonstrations.
Another bulletin referenced earlier guidance from the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) on how to mitigate risk and threats to places of worship and emphasized the importance of consistent outreach to faith groups.
Jewish and Muslim leaders urge calm and solidarity
While some Jewish and Muslim leaders have expressed their support for either side of the conflict, others have called for calm and solidarity among their communities in the face of rising hatred and violence.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL), a Jewish civil rights organization, said it was deeply concerned by the reports of rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel and urged both sides to de-escalate the situation. The ADL also condemned the anti-Semitic incidents that have occurred in several U.S. cities, such as vandalism, harassment, and assaults.
“We stand in solidarity with the Jewish community as they face this wave of hate,” the ADL said in a statement. “We also stand with our Muslim neighbors who may be targeted because of their faith or ethnicity. We reject any attempts to use this conflict as an excuse to sow division and fear in our communities.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil rights organization, said it was appalled by the Israeli attacks on Gaza that have killed hundreds of civilians, including children. The group also denounced the Israeli forces’ raid on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem, which sparked the current crisis.
“We urge all Americans to contact their elected representatives and demand an end to U.S. support for Israel’s brutal oppression of the Palestinian people,” CAIR said in a statement. “We also urge all Americans to stand against Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, racism, and all forms of bigotry that seek to divide us.”