Israel’s war with Hamas has now entered its seventh day with causalities mounting on both sides of the conflict.
Law enforcement agencies in the Los Angeles area are among many stepping up security on Friday after former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal called for supporters to flood the streets for a “Day of Jihad.”
The uprising, Meshaal says, is a response “to the Zionists and their criminal leaders and what they wrought, and to the Americans who came to their aid.”
In his speech, Meshaal called for the “Ummah to engage in battle” and for supporters to fight as “jihad is an individual responsibility.”
“I think it’s very scary,” said John Paul, a Los Angeles resident. “Terrorism is intended to be scary and I think they’ve succeeded in frightening a lot of people.”
While there have been no specific credible threats in Southern California, law enforcement including the Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and Los Angeles police departments have issued statements confirming that they are aware of the potential threat and have added additional security at synagogues and other places of worship.
“We don’t have credible threats to this area right now, but that doesn’t mean somebody that’s working by themselves may see that and decide to take some action,” said Blake Chow, LAPD Assistant Chief. “We’re really asking everybody to be alert.”
A rabbi in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood who did not want to use his name for his family’s safety, says terrorists will not win and he encourages others to be strong.
“I feel more encouraged, more emboldened, more strong, more unified with my people,” he said. “There are some people naturally, they will be afraid and I tell them don’t be. I’m not afraid. Don’t be afraid. Be strong.”
Several school districts are also trying to reassure students and parents, including the Las Virgines Unified and L.A. Unified School District.
“Our schools are safe,” LAUSD said in a statement. “We want to assure you that we are closely monitoring the situation and continuing to work with our civic and law enforcement partners, and will take appropriate and immediate action to respond to any and all threats to our learning communities.”
“The Lost Hills Sheriff’s Department has added additional patrols for all of our schools that will be present on Friday, in addition to our [security] team. We will also be providing additional security to each campus,” a middle school principal in the Las Virgines district told parents.