American cities ramp up security around places of worship following Israel attacks, and assure residents there are no credible threats

WTOP's Luke Lukert reports how DC-area police are stepping up security at area synagogues after a surprise attack on Israel over the weekend.

(CNN) — While assuring Americans there are no credible threats locally, cities throughout the United States are ramping up security around houses of worship after the large-scale attack by Gaza militants on Israel on Saturday.

The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security issued “public safety concern” bulletins Saturday to state and local law enforcement and said they are monitoring for any impact on the US domestic threat environment, a law enforcement official said. So far, the agencies said there was no “current specific intelligence indicating a threat to the United States.”

The increased vigilance in the US comes after Gaza militants launched a surprise attack on Israel Saturday morning, firing thousands of rockets and entering Israel by land, sea and air. Israel then launched airstrikes on Gaza while its forces clashed on the ground with Hamas fighters.

In Israel, at least 300 people have died and thousands of others are wounded, officials said. In Gaza, at least 232 Palestinians have died and more than 1,600 are wounded, the Palestinian health ministry said.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Saturday said there are no specific or credible threats against the Jewish community in the city, which is home to the largest Jewish population in the world outside Israel.

“I have directed the NYPD to deploy additional resources to Jewish communities and houses of worship citywide to ensure that our communities have the resources they need to make sure everyone feels safe,” Adams said.

Meanwhile, New York Governor Kathy Hochul said she’s working with Israel’s Acting Consul General in New York and the US Embassy in Jerusalem to aid in the return of New Yorkers currently in Israel.

She added as a precaution, she has “directed the New York State Police to work with local law enforcement to ensure Jewish community spaces are safe.”

Across the state line, New Jersey’s attorney general also announced law enforcement will be increasing patrols across the state and called on residents to be extra vigilant.

“While there is no credible threat to safety, law enforcement will be increasing patrols in sensitive areas – particularly houses of worship for both the Jewish and Islamic faiths – and taking other steps out of an abundance of caution,” Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin said in a statement Saturday.

Houston, Texas, Mayor Sylvester Turner announced enhanced security measures at synagogues and “other potential venues.”

In the nation’s capital, police will also have “increased visibility” near places of worship in Washington, DC, spokesman Sean Hickman told CNN, adding “there are currently no credible threats in the District.”

Police in Montgomery County, Maryland, said in a statement that there is no known threats, but it is “actively monitoring the situation” and taking proactive measures to ensure security for residents. Law enforcement officials in Fairfax County, Virginia, have increased patrols and visibility around houses of worship.

“We will continue to maintain a presence to support our faith-based community,” Fairfax County police said in a statement.

On the West Coast, the Los Angeles Police Department announced it will be conducting extra patrols in Jewish and Muslim communities.

“The Los Angeles region has the second-largest Jewish population outside of Israel and many families are anxiously awaiting developments as they unfold,” Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass said in a statement. “My thoughts are with those families this morning.”

President Joe Biden spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Saturday and said Washington “unequivocally condemns this appalling assault against Israel by Hamas terrorists from Gaza.”

“I made clear to Prime Minister Netanyahu that we stand ready to offer all appropriate means of support to the government and people of Israel,” he said.

WTOP’s Luke Lukert and Teddy Gelman contributed to this report. 

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