Horror on Har Nof, Increased Vigilance in NY Area
Update – 19 November: U.S. Department of State security bulletin re Israel | As tensions remain high, isolated acts of violence in the form of vehicular attacks and stabbings may continue, particularly in Jerusalem where frustration is particularly acute. It remains unlikely that large-scale or complex attacks will occur in Israel due to the increased security measures that have been put in place over the past several years, such as the Israeli West Bank barrier, and the increased capabilities of Israeli authorities. However, it is unclear whether Israeli interests within the West Bank could potentially pose a more feasible target for more complex attacks.
The expected difficulty of Palestinian terrorist groups to carry out successful, sophisticated, complex attacks in Green Line Israel (the generally recognized border between Israel and the West Bank) suggests that isolated, low-level acts of aggression are likely to continue. The challenge of detecting and containing attempted stabbings or vehicular attacks indicates these tactics will likely continue to be successful.
The success of the November 18 synagogue attack may lead to an increase in planning and coordination between potential terrorists in relatively unsophisticated attacks that are likely to bypass security. In turn, possible soft targets are likely to remain an area of concern for OSAC constituents as tensions remain high. The State Department considers soft targets to include places where people live, congregate, shop or visit, including hotels, clubs, restaurants, shopping centers, identifiable Western businesses, housing compounds, transportation systems, places of worship, schools, or public recreation events, often with little or no security presence.
The Consulate General in Jerusalem has issued several Security Messages highlighting continued tensions in Jerusalem and restrictions on consulate staff. U.S. government personnel are restricted from using the Light Rail north of French Hill in light of the repeated acts of violence against train cars transiting through Light Rail Stations in East Jerusalem. Israeli authorities have also placed concrete barriers at Light Rail stations to help prevent additional attacks. The Consulate General has also advised against entering neighborhoods restricted by INP and suggests avoiding areas where clashes have been ongoing. Post also recommends exercising caution when transiting through neighborhoods where protest activity has been ongoing, such as Silwan, Abu Tor, Shuafat, Issawiya, and those immediately surrounding the Old City. OSAC constituents can also monitor local news for events that might spur additional unrest beyond these neighborhoods, such as announcements of new settlements, tensions surrounding the HAS/TM, funerals for those killed in protests and clashes with police.
Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of the victims of this morning’s terror attack on Har Nof in Jerusalem: Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, Rabbi Kalman Levine, Aryeh Kupinsky and Rabbi Moshe Twersky. Rabbi Twersky’s brother, Mayer Twersky, is on the faculty of REITS at Yeshiva University. His sister Tzipporah and brother-in-law Rabbi Jonathan Rosenblatt are Rebbitzen and Rabbi of the Riverdale Jewish Center. He was a grandson of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, z”l.
We urge you to pray for the full recovery of those injured in the attacks. The following are their Hebrew names:
חיים יחיאל בן מלכה
איתן בן שרה
שמואל ירוחם בן ביילה
אברהם שמואל בן שיינה
אריה בן ברכה
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio stated: “I am horrified and heartbroken by today’s terror attack in Jerusalem, which took the innocent lives of four people. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims’ families. New York City stands in solidarity with Israel at this difficult time, and we hope and pray for a peaceful and secure future for all of its people.
Police Commissioner Bratton announced: “The NYPD is following developments in Jerusalem closelyand working with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force to monitor any further developments. As of now, there is no specific credible threat to New York City. The NYPD has increased its attention to Synagogues and other symbolic locations around the city. Once again, we asked the public to be vigilant and if you see something, say something.”
“The NYPD is in close contact with its liaison post in Israel. We have increased our police presence at synagogues and other key locations around the city. As always, we ask New Yorkers to stay alert and immediately report any suspicious activity.”
Officials’ & Religious Leaders’ Statements – LINK
There are no known, credible threats to the Jewish community here in the NY area, but we recommend all Jewish institutions to be extra vigilant. JCRC-NY suggests the following steps:
- Remember, one of the most important recommendations is to establish a close, working relationship with your local police authorities. They should know about your services, school schedules, special meetings, etc. Be in contact with the community affairs officer of your local precinct and let him/her know about the times of daily services and school arrival and dismissal times.
- DHS just published: Potential Indicators, Common Vulnerabilities, and Protective Measures: Religious Facilities. This is an new (April 2014) and excellent overview of facility security and emergency planning. Ie used as the agenda for your security/building committee work to plan for the unexpected. There is also a good table with indicators of suspicious activity. Please review the document and act accordingly.
- Law enforcement and Homeland Security leaders recommend that organizations train their staffs and constituencies in security awareness, especially the signs of suspicious behavior — i.e., it just doesn’t look right. If you see something, say something: in New York City-1 (888) NYC-SAFE or elsewhere in NY:
- Click here for more information on active shooters and armed intruders.
Signs of suspicious behavior:
- Demonstrating an unusual interest in or unusual questions about security procedures, or engaging in overtly suspicious actions to provoke and observe responses by security or law enforcement officers;
- Demonstrating an unusual interest in entry points, peak days and hours of operation, security personnel, surveillance assets (including cameras), and access controls such as alarms, barriers, doors, gates, or locks;
- Demonstrating an unusual interest in security reaction drills or procedures;
- multiple false alarms or fictitious emergency calls to same locations or similar venues;
- Loitering, parking, or standing in the same area over multiple days with no reasonable explanation;
- Unusual interest in speaking with building maintenance personnel or security guards;
- Attention to or avoidance of surveillance cameras;
- Interest without justification in obtaining site plans, ingress and egress routes, and information on employees or the public; and
- Garments not appropriate for the weather or season without a reasonable explanation.
Suggested Protective Measures
- Increase visibility of armed security and law enforcement personnel in areas adjacent to and in front of security checkpoints to deter unwanted activity;
- Raise awareness among employees by conducting “all hazards” awareness training;
- Establish liaison and regular communications with local, state, and federal law enforcement, emergency responders, and public health organizations to enhance information exchange or clarify emergency responses;
- Report missing or stolen equipment, to include weapons, to the proper authorities;
- Raise community awareness of potential threats and vulnerabilities; and
- Encourage employees, tenants, and visitors to report anything that appears to be odd or suspicious.