Nassau rabbis head for a security briefing by Nassau County...

Nassau rabbis head for a security briefing by Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman and Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder Thursday in Garden City. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Long Island, state and New York City authorities are increasing security and patrols in communities and houses of worship following a call by a former Hamas chief for protests across the Muslim world Friday in support of Palestinians and against Israel.

While law enforcement has reported no credible threats, the call for a global day of jihad by former Hamas Chief Khaled Meshall has prompted police on Long Island to deploy additional special forces, including SWAT teams, drones and bomb-sniffing K-9s in Jewish communities, near schools, businesses, synagogues and yeshivas through Saturday and until the threat has been mitigated, officials said.

Several Long Island school districts sent letters to parents Thursday saying they were on heightened alert, with messages from Nassau and Suffolk police warning parents to be alert and to report suspicious activity.

Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams reassured New Yorkers Thursday evening that there were no credible threats throughout the state. Hochul said she is working with the Department of Homeland Security and the White House to protect New Yorkers and assess threats.

“There is no call to violence that will shake our conviction and no evil we’re unwilling to confront,” Hochul said. “I want to reiterate there is no reason to be afraid. No one should feel the need to alter their normal lives or routine. If we change our normal behavior without a serious threat, we’re letting the terrorists win.”

Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder and County Executive Bruce Blakeman said in news conferences there were “no direct, credible threats” in Nassau County. But Blakeman added “... Although it is a general threat against all those Jewish people in the world, we are taking actions here to make sure that our community is safe.”

Afterward, Ryder and Blakeman met with about 50 rabbis and Jewish leaders for a security briefing Thursday at the Nassau police David S. Mack Center for Training and Intelligence in Garden City.

Ryder told the gathering about efforts to heighten security in Nassau County, urging the rabbis to report any suspicious activities or threats. Officials said they would leave it up to the religious leaders, yeshivas and Jewish business owners to decide if they should close Friday.

Rabbi Shalom Axelrod of Young Israel of Woodmere said prior to the security briefing that no one from his congregation of more than 1,200 families had asked him to cancel services.

“That is what terrorism strives for. What Hamas wants to see is some guy in some hole, wants us to cower, and we’re not going to,” Axelrod said. “We’re going to be open, we’re going to have our services and if anything I encourage our Jewish population to come out strong. Let everyone know just because Hamas tries to eradicate [Jews] from this world, it’s not going to happen.”

Blakeman said several mosques had also asked for additional security following the Hamas call for protests.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney K. Harrison said in a letter to parents, included in notices by some school districts, that Suffolk police would increase patrols and surveillance around synagogues. He said detectives were monitoring threats online, but noted, “There are no credible threats in Suffolk County.”

In New York City, officers of every rank were ordered to show up for work in uniform on Friday in case violence erupted — an order that applies to every officer, from beat cops to high-ranked chiefs. The NYPD also notified its “Shield” consortium, security composed of private industries and businesses around the city, alerting them about possible demonstrations in support of Hamas.

Adams said all yeshivas and schools in the city planned to remain open.

Nassau County police already added an additional 20 patrol cars following the attacks Saturday morning, Blakeman said.

Police would not disclose how many officers would be deployed, but said it would include helicopter patrols, mounted officers on horseback and the marine bureau.

Nassau County police and Blakeman told rabbis and community members during a news conference not to be alarmed by drone surveillance or additional police presence in their neighborhoods.

Police also have a drone detection unit, which monitors every drone flying over Nassau County and the New York City area. Police said only FAA-licensed operators would be allowed to fly and officers would order any unauthorized drones to be taken down.

With Anthony M. DeStefano

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