Heroic security guard prevents ax-wielding assailant from attacking Ukrainian synagogue during morning prayers.
An ax-wielding man who attacked a synagogue in Ukraine on Tuesday managed to escape after being fought off by a security guard, local news outlets reported.
The shocking attack occurred the southeastern city of Mariupol. The assailant ‐‐ a young unaccompanied man ‐‐ approached the synagogue with an ax in his hand while morning prayers were underway. He was quickly confronted by a security guard named as Rikhard Holomazov.
According to the UNIAN news agency, Holomazov attempted to beat back the assailant, sustaining a broken arm and a head injury as he seized the ax and stopped the young man from gaining entry to the synagogue.
The assailant then threw various heavy objects at the synagogue, including bags filled with feces and sand. No one inside the building was harmed and the attacker fled.
Ukrainian police have launched a search for the attacker.
Joel Lion — the Israeli ambassador to Ukraine — described the outrage as an “antisemitic attack.”
Home to a Jewish community of several hundred, Mariupol is located in the Donetsk territory disputed between Ukraine and Russia. The city was seized by Russian insurgents early in 2014 before it was retaken by Ukrainian government forces a few months later.
In a 2017 interview, the community’s rabbi, Menachem Mendel Cohen, noted that despite the high level of military and political tensions, “in general, there is no glaring anti-Semitism in Mariupol.”
Said Rabbi Cohen: “I walk on the street wearing the kippah, people say hello, and we are fine.”