Police Brace for International ‘Day of Jihad’
Following Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel last weekend, pro-Palestine rallies have erupted across the globe, heightening security and safety concerns in the wake of a former Hamas chief’s call for a worldwide “Day of Jihad” to take place Friday.
Former Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal, now serving as the organization’s Qatar-based diaspora officer, issued a demand Wednesday for Muslims to partake in a global “Day of Jihad” and take to the streets in rallies and demonstrations. In a video posted to YouTube but quickly deleted, Meshaal also called for Muslims “to show anger” and “send a message of rage to Zionists and to America” on Friday.
Hamas officially issued a similar call on Tuesday, publishing a “Declaration of General Mobilization,” according to the Middle East Media Research Institute. The statement reads, “We declare next Friday [October 13th], ‘The Friday of the Al-Aqsa Flood,’ as a day of general mobilization in our Arab and Islamic world and among the free people of the world,” referring to the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, a site of frequent tension between Israeli Jews and Muslims. The statement also called for “the free people of the world to mobilize in solidarity with our Palestinian people and in support of their just cause and legitimate rights to freedom, independence, return, and self-determination.” Pro-Palestine demonstrations have already been occurring worldwide since Hamas attacked Israel on Saturday.
Muslims and pro-Palestine protestors marched in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, chanting, “Settler, settler, you will learn. By the millions we’ll return.” A similar event occurred in New York City, where crowds cheered as a speaker described the violence of the Hamas attacks on Israel and chanted “700,” the estimated number of Israelis killed in the attack as of Saturday. Rallies also took place in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and San Diego.
Pro-Palestine demonstrations have been particularly prevalent on college and university campuses in the U.S. Over 30 Harvard University student organizations issued a joint statement supporting Palestine and faulting Israel for Hamas’s attack, and an Israeli Jewish student at Columbia University was attacked by a pro-Palestine activist while hanging posters of Israelis kidnapped by Hamas.
In the wake of both spreading protests and Meshaal’s call for a “Day of Jihad,” police forces across the U.S. are on high alert. Capitol Police in Washington, D.C. have confirmed that they’re “enhancing security,” telling reporters, “We are not taking any chances.” The New York City Police Department has also increased its presence, issuing a statement Thursday reading, “We are aware of the concern that postings circulating online have caused, and we have increased our uniform deployments at large gatherings and cultural sites to ensure public safety out of an abundance of caution.”
The Los Angeles Police Department is doing the same, increasing patrols across the sprawling city. Police officers are reportedly warning their friends and family members to stay home. The FBI has also confirmed it is monitoring the situation and coordinating with state and local law enforcement, and the Department of Homeland Security has issued “public safety concern” bulletins, despite officials claiming there is no “current specific intelligence indicating a threat to the United States.”
In Sydney, Australia, Muslim crowds gathered Sunday night to celebrate the attack on Israel, chanting “Allahu Akbar.” A Muslim preacher named Sheik Ibrahim Dadoun said to the crowd, “It’s a day of courage. It’s a day of pride. It’s a day of victory. This is the day we’ve been waiting for!” Celebrations also took place in London, England, where Muslims cheered for the rape and kidnapping of Israeli civilians. Pro-Palestine groups also marched in Dublin, Ireland, Wednesday night. Already, an Israeli diplomat who works at the Embassy in Beijing was stabbed outside a supermarket. Chinese police confirmed they have arrested a suspect described as a “foreign man.”
In France, the Interior Ministry banned pro-Palestine demonstrations, citing a concern over “likely … disturbances to public order.” Instructions on the ban, forwarded to all of France’s departments and regions, reportedly demand law enforcement employ stringent penalties in cases where the ban is violated, including “immediate” arrest and deportment of foreigners participating in pro-Palestine rallies. Rallies have taken place anyway, resulting in police using riot gear, water cannons, and tear gas to quell a pro-Palestine rally in Paris on Thursday night. On Friday, the following day, a teacher was stabbed to death and others were injured at a school near France’s border with Belgium. The attacker, who has been arrested, reportedly shouted, “Allahu Akbar,” an Islamic war cry.
On Thursday night’s edition of “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins,” Rep. Nathaniel Moran (R-Texas) shared his thoughts on how Americans should respond to the threat of the “Day of Jihad,” saying, “I would not say that folks need to be living in fear. They don’t. I would say they need to be as vigilant as they should be every other day. We live in perilous times.” He added, “We know that at the ultimate conclusion of this, we are going to overcome. As Christians, we know that that’s the case, that there’s going to be victory in this world. But it doesn’t mean we need to part from our wisdom and prudence in our actions.”
S.A. McCarthy serves as a news writer at The Washington Stand.