NEW YORK (PIX11) – The war between Israel and Hamas has prompted protests and demonstrations, as well as increased security measures from the NYPD. 

“We are currently in a heightened threat environment and tensions have been rising since the assault against Israel on Oct. 7,” Police Commissioner Edward A. Caban said in a statement Wednesday. “The NYPD is doing everything we can do to forestall future violence in our city. However, we know the ongoing events overseas may resonate with individuals domestically and that is hard to anticipate.” 

New York City is home to the largest Jewish population outside of Israel, with about 2 million Jewish people living in the city and surrounding areas.  

Since Hamas’ terror attack and Israel’s declaration of war in response, several tense protests have been held in New York City.  

The day after the Hamas military group attacked Israel, a rally in support of Palestinians was held in Times Square. Hundreds of demonstrators with pro-Palestinian flags and signs descended on 42nd Street and Broadway. The protesters were met by another group supporting Israel, forcing the NYPD to create barriers between the crowds.

A few days later, at another rally, New York City Councilwoman Inna Vernikov was arrested after she was photographed with a gun in her waistband during a pro-Palestinian rally at Brooklyn College, according to the NYPD. Vernikov is a vocal supporter of Israel.

On Tuesday, after a blast killed hundreds at a Gaza hospital, NYPD officers mobilized in Washington Square Park as several hundred pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel supporters held dueling rallies. Police formed a human barricade between both sides, quelling any aggression for hours.  

None of the demonstrations have turned violent.  

“People have been exercising their First Amendment. There have been minimal incidents,” NYPD Chief of Patrol John Chell said.  

The decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict is rooted in competing claims to the Holy Land and disputes over borders. 

In 1947, the United Nations adopted the Partition Plan, which sought to divide the British Mandate of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states. In 1948, the State of Israel was created, sparking the first Arab-Israeli War.  

The war ended in 1949 with Israel’s victory, but over 700,000 Palestinians were displaced. The territory was then divided into three parts: Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.  

Palestine is a partially recognized sovereign state. It is not a country recognized by the United States or the United Nations. 

Matthew Euzarraga is a multimedia journalist from El Paso, Texas. He has covered local news and LGBTQIA topics in the New York City Metro area since 2021. He joined the PIX11 Digital team in 2023. You can see more of his work here.

This story comprises reporting from The Associated Press and PIX11 News reporters Mira Wassef and Anthony DiLorenzo.