Deadly Attack on Israel Spurs Increased Security at NJ Temples, Mosques
Police throughout New Jersey are stepping up patrols at sensitive areas as the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Palestine, which has left at least 900 dead, continues to escalate.
Law enforcement agencies in every county are coordinating with the New Jersey Attorney General's Office to increase security, especially at synagogues and mosques, according to Attorney General Matthew Platkin.
The security increase comes after a surprise attack on Israel launched by Hamas from the Gaza Strip on Saturday morning.
Authorities said the measures in New Jersey are preventative and not in response to any specific threat.
"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. We also call upon New Jersey residents to be extra vigilant, and if you see suspicious activity please report it to your local authorities without delay," Platkin said.
How the attack on Israel impacts New Jersey
New Jersey is home to an estimated 609,000 residents who identify as Jewish, according to a 2021 Berman Jewish DataBank study. That's around 8 percent of the 7.3 million Jewish persons living in the United States.
Only California, New York, and Florida have larger Jewish populations.
Gov. Phil Murphy said Saturday he was "sickened" by videos and photos showing Hamas killing innocent civilians. Israel has a right to defend itself from the attacks, he said.
"As a state with one of the largest Jewish and Israeli American communities in the world, today’s news is especially hard to fathom. As Governor, I stand with the people of Israel in this dark hour in a united show of resolve against terrorism. I have stood with Israel since the first day of my Administration and have proudly visited four times as Governor. It is a country we hold dear to our hearts, sharing an unbreakable bond with New Jersey," Murphy said.
One man who attends a synagogue in New Jersey, Maxim Jacobs, 48, said to the Associated Press that the conflict created a mournful atmosphere as worshippers worried about family members in Israel during Saturday morning services.
The rabbi said to congregants that they should try to carry joy amid the ongoing situation.
“We need to get closer together, have joy, tell the terrorists they won’t get us down,” Jacobs said. “We will go on as Jews.”
Israel declares war after deadly attacks
The Israeli government formally declared war Sunday and gave the green light for “significant military steps” to retaliate against Hamas for its surprise attack from the Gaza Strip, portending greater fighting ahead as the toll from the conflict passed 900 dead and thousands wounded on both sides.
More than 24 hours after Hamas launched its unprecedented incursion out of Gaza, Israeli forces were still trying to crush the last groups of militant fighters holed up in several towns of southern Israel.
At least 600 people have reportedly been killed in Israel — a staggering toll on a scale the country has not experienced in decades — and more than 300 have been killed in Gaza as Israeli airstrikes pound the territory.
The Security Cabinet approved “significant military steps.” The steps were not defined, but the declaration appears to give the military and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a wide mandate.
Speaking on national television Saturday, Netanyahu vowed that Hamas “will pay an unprecedented price.” He further warned: “This war will take time. It will be difficult.”
President Joe Biden spoke on Sunday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to Israeli officials.
In remarks at the White House on Saturday, Biden called the attacks “unconscionable” and pledged his administration would ensure Israel has “what it needs to defend itself.”
(Includes material Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission)
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