Fearing outbreaks of violence as supporters of Israel and the Palestinian cause square off after Hamas’ terror attack on Israel, police across the U.S. have been sending extra officers to protests and are ratcheting up security at potential targets like mosques, synagogues and consulates, NBC News reports. Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore sent extra patrols to neighborhoods with large Jewish and Muslim populations as a precaution hours after Hamas militants launched a series of deadly raids inside Israel. As Israel retaliated with missile attacks Monday on Gaza and Hamas threatened to execute the Israelis they had taken hostage, Los Angeles police are preparing for large pro-Palestinian rallies and potential counterprotests.
In New York City, a police spokesperson said extra police officers were present Sunday outside the United Nations headquarters, where a skirmish between supporters of Israel and the Palestinians erupted, as well as in Times Square, where police set up barricades to keep a group chanting “Free, free Palestine; long live Palestine” separated from a pro-Israel group. “There was an astonishing amount of police,” said Munir Atalla of the Palestinian Youth Movement, which helped organize the rally. “It was maybe more police than I’ve ever seen come to a protest." Atalla, who said his family was expelled from Jerusalem in 1948 by “Zionist militias,” sees the Hamas attack as the culmination of years of frustration among Palestinians who say they are trapped in teeming Gaza by the Israelis, which maintains a blockade that has been condemned by the U.N. and more than a dozen human rights organizations. In Kirkland, Wash., police had to intervene Sunday after scuffles broke out between pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian demonstrators.