NEW YORK (PIX11) – Large-scale protests are expected Friday after a former Hamas leader called for Muslims around the world to demonstrate in support of Palestinians amid the militant group’s war with Israel.
Security has been heightened at major Jewish worship sites and centers in New York City. There are no credible threats at this time, according to top intelligence from the NYPD.
Schools across the city will also receive extra patrols and resources as law enforcement across the state mobilizes.
Khaled Meshaal, who led Hamas until 2017, called for mass protests around the world in a recorded statement sent to Reuters.
“[We must] head to the squares and streets of the Arab and Islamic world on Friday,” Meshaal said.
The NYPD’s counterterrorism unit said it has the city covered and is monitoring online chatter about the upcoming protests. The fear has both Jewish and Islamic leaders trying to quell anger and violent action.
The MTA’s transit president also reassured commuters on Friday that stations, subways, buses, and commuter rails are safe, and that extra security precautions were being taken.
Dueling protests attended by hundreds of people were held Thursday at Columbia University.
“Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine stands in full solidarity with Palestinian resistance against over 75 years of Israeli settler-colonialism and apartheid,” a statement from the Columbia Students for Justice in Palestine Facebook group said.
There are more protests planned for Friday, including the “CUNY rally and march for Palestine” at Baruch College at 2 p.m. and the “International Day of Action for Palestine” protest in Times Square at 3 p.m. The demonstration at Baruch College was expected to march to Times Square to join that demonstration.
Sen. Cory Booker, meanwhile, is expected to visit Temple B’nai Jeshurun, a synagogue in Short Hills, New Jersey, at 5:30 p.m.
Israel’s military told some 1 million Palestinians on Friday to evacuate northern Gaza and head to the southern part of the besieged territory, an unprecedented order applying to almost half the population ahead of an expected ground invasion against the ruling Hamas militant group.
The U.N. warned that so many people fleeing en masse would be calamitous. Hamas, which staged a shocking and brutal attack on Israel nearly a week ago and has fired thousands of rockets since, dismissed the order as a ploy and called on people to stay in their homes.
More than 2,800 people have been killed on both sides of the conflict, including at least 27 Americans. The number of missing Americans rose to 14, White House National Security spokesman John Kirby said on Thursday.
This story comprises reporting from The Associated Press.