AUSTIN (KXAN) — The city of Austin is on high alert according to Mayor Kirk Watson as the war wages on in Israel.
“We have not received any information to believe that a threat is imminent here in Austin. However, our Austin Police and Homeland Security & Emergency Management departments are on high alert to help prevent and respond to any act of violence that may be attempted,” said Watson in a press release on Thursday.
As fighting continues in Israel and Gaza, reports of a former Hamas leader calling for a day of action have left many concerned.
Some are calling Friday, Oct. 13, a “day of Jihad,” “day of anger,” or “day of terror.”
“I think at the moment people should have situational awareness,” said Ryan Bohl, who works for RANE, a geopolitical risk intelligence firm.
Bohl said these threats can cause panic, but that is one of the main goals.
“There is no need to necessarily engage in paranoia, but taking a look and thinking to yourself where are the exits at a location if there is an incident,” said Bohl.
APD will be deploying directed patrols and will be on tactical alert on Friday.
“We want to assure residents that their safety is our top priority. Our first responder agencies along with our office of homeland security and emergency management are operating in a heightened state of preparedness. We have dedicated resources to mitigate any threats or harm to our community.”Interim City Manager Jesus Garza
Bohl said some locations are at greater threat than others — including a state capital like Austin — and could be targets of individuals who are outraged.
“From an individual standpoint Austin synagogues and mosques are all potential risks of lone radicals,” said Bohl. “The state capitol is, as well as any institutions that are seen as taking a side in the conflict.”
DPS said at this time it is not aware of any specific and credible threats to Texas, but the Jewish community is still on alert.
Over at Shalom Austin, security teams have been in continuous contact with local, state and federal law enforcement officials according to an email sent out to members.
Bohl said the threat level could increase as time goes on and if other players join the war.
“If the situation escalates to include an Israel-Hezbollah war, it is always possible that Hezbollah decides to retaliate against both Israeli targets and Jewish associated targets overseas as well as the United States.”
Both APD and DPS urge anyone who sees any suspicious activity on Friday or at any time to call 911 immediately.
These are all precautionary steps; there have not been any current credible threats towards Texas or Austin at this time.