Five stabbed at New York rabbi's home in 'terrorist' attack
Monsey (United States) (AFP) – An intruder stabbed and wounded five people at a rabbi’s house in a New York suburb late Saturday, in an incident the state governor said was “an act of terrorism” after a spate of attacks on Jewish targets.
Local media reported that a man with a machete entered the rabbi’s property in Monsey, Rockland County, during celebrations for the Jewish festival of Hanukkah, knifing several people before fleeing.
Victims were rushed to nearby hospitals, with no official details on their injuries. Police said a suspect was later arrested.
“This is an act of terrorism. I think these are domestic terrorists. They are trying to inflict fear,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters at the scene on Sunday.
“They’re motivated by hate. They are doing mass attacks. These are terrorists in our country perpetrating terrorism on other Americans, and that’s how we should treat it.”
Last year a white supremacist walked into a Pittsburgh synagogue and killed 11 people — the deadliest attack against the Jewish community in the United States.
Earlier this month six people, including two suspects, were killed in a Jersey City shooting at a kosher deli, which authorities said was fueled in part by anti-Semitism.
A report in April from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) stated that the number of anti-Semitic attacks in 2018 was close to the record of 2017, with 1,879 incidents.
“I was praying for my life,” said witness Aron Kohn, 65, comparing the knife used by the attacker to “the size of a broomstick.”
Kohn threw chairs and tables in an attempt to head off the assault.
“I saw him stabbing people,” he added. “He injured a guy, he was bleeding in his hand, all over.”
Kohn said the attacker tried to enter the adjacent synagogue, but it was locked.
– Extra patrols –
Yossi Gestetner, of the Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council (OJPAC), told The New York Times that one of the victims was a son of the rabbi.
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“The house had many dozens of people in there,” Gestetner said. “It was a Hanukkah celebration.”
Rockland has the largest Jewish population per capita of any US county, with 31.4 percent, or 90,000 Jewish residents.
In response to the recent surge in hate-crimes in New York, Mayor Bill de Blasio had announced on Friday that the NYPD was stepping up patrols in three neighborhoods and increasing the number of visits to places of worship.
After Saturday’s attack, the mayor also tweeted that he has recently spoken to longtime Jewish friends who are fearful of outwardly showing their faith.
“We will NOT allow this to become the new normal,” he wrote. “We’ll use every tool we have to stop these attacks once and for all.”
In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the country “strongly condemns the recent displays of antisemitism including the vicious attack at the home of a rabbi in Monsey, New York.”
“We will cooperate however possible with the local authorities in order to assist in defeating this phenomenon.”
The attack happened at about 10:00 pm on Saturday, the seventh night of Hanukkah.
“It’s a wave and a trend of hate-filled violence that is sweeping the country, not just NY State,” tweeted Maya Wiley, a civil rights activist and senior vice president for social justice at the New School private university in New York. “We have to stand together to keep our neighbors safe.”