Israel's Netanyahu condemns 'vicious attack' at Hanukkah celebration in New York

Israel's Netanyahu condemns 'vicious attack' at Hanukkah celebration in New York
© Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE on Sunday expressed outrage after five people were stabbed during a Hanukkah celebration at the home of a Hassidic rabbi in a New York town with a large ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. 

“Israel strongly condemns the recent displays of antisemitism including the vicious attack at the home of a rabbi in #Monsey, New York, during Chanukah,” Netanyahu said in a statement. 

"We send our best wishes for recovery to the wounded. We will cooperate however possible with the local authorities in order to assist in defeating this phenomenon."

Israel President Reuven Rivlin added in a separate statement that "the rise of anti-Semitism is not just a Jewish problem, and certainly not just the State of Israel's problem."

"We must work together to confront this evil, which is raising its head again and is a genuine threat around the world," he said.

Witnesses said that an intruder entered the home of Rabbi Chaim Rottenberg in Monsey late Saturday night and stabbed multiple people, according to reports. The Orthodox Jewish Public Affairs Council for the Hudson Valley region said on Twitter that five patients, all of which are Hasidic Jews, were transported to local hospitals for their injuries. 

Two of the victims arrived at the hospital in critical condition, the group said. One of the victims was a child of Rottenberg's, OJPAC founder Yossi Gestetner said

The Ramapo Police Department said in a statement early Sunday that the suspect fled, but that he is now in custody. The police said that their investigation into the incident is ongoing. 

Michael B. Specht, the town supervisor for Ramapo, told The New York Times that the suspect was arrested in the 32nd precinct of New York City. The suspect was not identified as of Sunday morning.  

Aron Kohn, who attended the Hanukkah celebration, told The Times that the assailant attempted to enter the synagogue Congregation Netzach Yisroel after attacking multiple people at Rottenberg's home. The synagogue, which is located next door to where the attack occurred, is led by Rottenberg.

Kohn said that people inside the synagogue locked the doors after hearing screams at Rottenberg's home. OJPAC founder Yossi Gestetner told reporters that the attacker's face was covered by a scarf. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) called the incident the "latest in a string of attacks against the Jewish community in New York."

"Let me be clear: anti-Semitism and bigotry of any kind are repugnant to our values of inclusion and diversity and we have absolutely zero tolerance for such acts of hate," he said in a statement, adding that he was directing the state police's hate crime task force to investigate the attack. 
 
The incident occurred just a day after New York City mayor Bill de Blasio announced that city police would increase its presence in Brooklyn neighborhoods with large Jewish populations after multiple attacks during Hanukkah. 

"We cannot overstate the fear people are feeling right now," he said in a tweet late Saturday. "I’ve spoken to longtime friends who, for the first time in their lives, are fearful to show outward signs of their Jewish faith."