WASHINGTON - U.S. Capitol Police and several law enforcement agencies in the D.C. area say they are increasing security and visibility as rumors circulate on social media about a threatened "Day of Rage."
Law enforcement in the nation’s capital and other major cities including New York and Los Angeles are preparing following reports that former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal made a call for global protests to be held Friday.
Historically, these kinds of calls have brought on widespread demonstrations in the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank but haven’t led to any large-scale action in the U.S. But with the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the start of the war, federal, state and local leaders are erring on the side of caution.
The call to action comes days after war broke out between Israel and Hamas following a surprise attack by the militant Islamist group that killed hundreds and left thousands more injured.
As the rocket attacks and deadly raids continue, the death toll has steadily risen with more than 1,200 now reported dead and more than 3,000 injured. Along with that, Hamas claims to have taken at least 150 hostages into Gaza.
More than 1,100 people have already been killed in Gaza as Israel continues to strike back. At least 27 American citizens have died in the conflict and another 14 are missing, National Security Council official John Kirby confirmed Thursday.
The extraordinary escalation of the decades-long conflict between Israel and pro-Palestinian radicals sent shockwaves across the globe and enormous suffering on both sides has sparked demonstrations.
Rallies were held in D.C. Sunday at the Washington Memorial, the White House and the Israeli Embassy after the violence broke out. Tributes were set up to honor and remember the hundreds of people killed in Israel while pro-Palestinian demonstrators were also present, holding flags and standing in solidarity.
Hamas' armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades hold a Palestinian flag as they destroy a tank of Israeli forces in Gaza City, Gaza on October 07, 2023. (Photo by Hani Alshaer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
A group of pro-Palestinian students held their own demonstration at George Mason University Thursday. Nearly 100 students gathered on Watkins Plaza in the center of the George Mason University campus in Fairfax, chanting "Long live Palestine!"
While it remained peaceful, extra police and security were on hand.
Now, fencing is up around the U.S. Capitol building. While Capitol Police say they aren’t tracking any specific threats to the U.S. Capitol grounds or Senate state offices right now, they’re not taking any chances.
Everyone on Capitol Hill from Congress to workers and visitors was put on notice Thursday evening that there would be increased security and police presence.
U.S. Capitol Police say they’re working with the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the Secret Service and others to monitor the situation.
D.C. Police also issued a statement Thursday, saying they are "working with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to monitor events unfolding worldwide" and added that there will be "increased visibility around the city and at places of worship."
Montgomery County Police say they are working to "enhance the safety of the Jewish community," increasing police presence around religious institutions there as well. They say there are no known threats at this time but they are also monitoring.
Security is also being stepped up at D.C.-area airports
Overseas, Secretary of State Antony Blinken says the U.S. is doing everything it can to help free the American hostages taken by Hamas. The secretary pledged American support to Israel as it fights Hamas.
Right now, Israel is not allowing anything into Gaza, issuing a "complete" blockade of the area, saying that "no electricity, food or fuel" would be allowed over the border.