In the aftermath of the recent escalation of violence between Hamas militants and Israel, cities across the United States are intensifying security measures to protect Jewish communities and houses of worship.
The increased vigilance comes in response to a large-scale attack launched by Hamas terrorists on October 6, which resulted in hundreds of military and civilian casualties in Israel, including hostages, and thousands of rockets launched.
While authorities maintain that there is no credible threat to the safety of communities in the U.S., they are taking precautionary steps to ensure the security and well-being of their residents.
New York City, home to the world’s largest Jewish population outside of Israel, is at the forefront of these security efforts. In a statement, Mayor Eric Adams declared the city’s support for Israel and, while stating that there was currently no credible threat, directed the New York Police Department to deploy additional resources to Jewish communities and houses of worship throughout the five boroughs.
Adams added that law enforcement would focus on covert actions as well, noting, “There is also the intel and invisible action that we’re going to put in place.”
Governor Kathy Hochul has also been coordinating with federal agencies to bolster security around at-risk sites. She affirmed that there are no known active threats to New Yorkers at this time.
The response to the situation extends beyond New York City. Leaders in various states have urged residents to be vigilant and report any suspicious activities promptly.
In New Jersey, Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin encouraged residents to be “extra vigilant” and announced increased law enforcement presence.
“While there is no credible threat to safety, law enforcement will be increasing patrols in sensitive areas — particularly houses of worship for both the Jewish and Islamic faiths — and taking other steps out of an abundance of caution,” Platkin said in a statement.
In Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser denounced the attacks and stated that patrols have been heightened at synagogues, houses of worship and embassies. A similar approach has been adopted by cities like Los Angeles, New Orleans and Houston, where the safety of Jewish and Muslim communities is being prioritized.
“The Los Angeles region has the second-largest Jewish population outside of Israel and many families are anxiously awaiting developments as they unfold,” Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said in a recent statement. “My thoughts are with those families.”
New Orleans law enforcement agencies are also gearing up to protect the 12,000-strong Jewish community in the city.
“The New Orleans Police Department is aware of the situation in the Middle East and out of an abundance of caution, I have deployed Directed Patrols to ensure the safety of our Jewish institutions and communities,” Superintendent Anne Kirkpatrick said in a statement. “NOPD District Captains will continue to work closely with Synagogue and community leaders in the interest of keeping our communities safe.”
While authorities stress that there is no current specific intelligence indicating a threat to the United States, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have issued “public safety concern” bulletins to state and local law enforcement agencies.
These agencies are closely monitoring the situation and working to assess any potential threats.
According to the FBI, one such incident took place in Salt Lake City after a synagogue received a bomb threat, leading to the evacuation of the congregation during a service. Law enforcement conducted searches but found nothing suspicious. The FBI’s Salt Lake City office is aware of multiple bomb threats to synagogues in Utah and is working with local authorities to investigate.
So far, the surprise Hamas attacks have left more than 1,400 Israelis killed and thousands injured.
Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League, noted that anti-Semitic incidents were already at a high point before the recent escalation in the Middle East, and encouraged the heightened vigilance from local law enforcement agencies.
“The police presence in front of preschools is what it looks like now. Squad cars in front of synagogues,” Greenblatt told CNN. “That’s what’s happening because after sparks in the Middle East, they light fires here America and in Europe.”