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Catholic Diocese of Dallas warns of Hamas targeting high school students on social media

Parochial schools and places of worship in North Texas are on high alert after threats of graphic social media posts from Hamas.

The Catholic Diocese of Dallas called for heightened awareness of a potential social media barrage by Hamas on Friday that could include violent and graphic posts.

The warning coincides with other schools across the country this week encouraging parents to delete social media apps like TikTok and Instagram off their phones. Schools and places of worship have also tightened security in anticipation of threats and protests because of the Israel-Hamas war.

Superintendent of Catholic Schools Rebecca Hammel said in a statement that heightened security awareness for its campuses is in place.

“I would also encourage parents to learn about these reports and determine how they may impact your children’s use of social media,” Hammel said.

The statement was made “out of an abundance of caution” in response to concerns from diocesan schools over the reports of a potential social media threat, Director of Communications Katy Kiser said.

On Thursday, the Dallas Police Department issued a statement which said there were no credible threats to the city, but they were monitoring the situation.

“We have increased visibility around houses of worship and we will always respond if there is a need for further police presence or a call for service,” the department said in a statement.

Kathryn Perry, Bishop Dunne Catholic School's director of external relations, said the school notified parents following the statement from the diocese so that they could be aware of the possibility of graphic social media posts from the Hamas group.

In an email sent to Bishop Dunne parents, the school said the social media posts may appear harmless at first, but once opened they could contain “violent, graphic videos and photography.” The email included a link back to Forbes which reported earlier this week that U.S. schools encouraged parents to delete social media from their students’ phones to avoid execution videos posted by Hamas.

Despite reports of possible threats of violence against Jews on Friday, Temple Emanu-el in Dallas said it will remain open through the weekend, but with enhanced security.

“We believe our community is strongest when we join together to live a vibrant, Jewish life, and are committed every day to making Temple the center of that life,” Temple leadership said in a statement issued Thursday.

Megan Cardona is a daily news reporter for KERA News. She was born and raised in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and previously worked at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.