Law enforcement agencies across the Southland and beyond were on heightened alert Friday in response to concerns about potentially violent protests in response to an alleged call by Hamas for a worldwide day of “solidarity” following its terrorist attacks on Israel that sparked war in the region.
“The Los Angeles Police Department is aware of recent statements made calling for action as it relates to the conflict in the Middle East,” the agency said in a statement Thursday. “We have no information of any specific or credible threats to the city of Los Angeles but we are continuing to assess the situation for any potential impacts to our communities.
“We are closely monitoring these events and are coordinating with federal, state and local partners on information sharing. We will continue to closely monitor these events. We will be reaching out to our local Jewish and Muslim communities and will be providing extra patrol during this unimaginable time.”
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department issued a nearly identical statement, adding, “We are conducting extra patrol checks and supplementing additional personnel from detective division and specialized units to have high visibility in strategic locations throughout the county. Additionally, we are reaching out to our local religious communities to reassure them during this tumultuous time.
“We urge the community who attend demonstrations to remain calm and peaceful. The safety and security of all our communities is our number one priority. We remind residents to stay vigilant and report anything suspicious to local law enforcement officials.”
Various other local law enforcement agencies also issued statements with similar themes of enhanced patrols, calls for vigilance by residents and insistence that there are no known credible threats in the area.
“We are aware of the growing concern in our community reference recent violence in Israel and statements made by Hamas,” according to the Fullerton Police Department. “We have employed heightened operational awareness for officers on patrol and we continue to monitor local activity in collaboration with our local and federal partners.
“At this time there are no known direct and credible threats at the local level.”
FBI Director Christopher Wray said Thursday the agency was aware of information spreading via the Internet about an alleged “Hamas call for action or demonstrations” on Friday, and it was working to confirm the validity of such a call.
“We cannot and do not discount the possibility that Hamas or other foreign terrorist organizations could exploit the conflict to call on their supporters to conduct attacks here on our own soil,” Wray said.
The New York Times reported that the national security officials held a call with about 4,000 law enforcement officials across the nation to discuss the concerns.
The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles circulated a message to local organizations this week, again assuring that there is “no known credible threat to the Los Angeles Jewish community at this time.”
However, the organization advised local Jewish groups and residents to be aware of their surroundings, avoid protest areas, call 911 if they feel endangered and report suspicious activity to police.
Even the striking SAG-AFTRA actors union announced Thursday it was canceling all picketing activity in Los Angeles and New York City on Friday “in light of potential safety concerns that are unrelated to our ongoing strike.”
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