An Israeli man has been repeatedly stabbed by a masked attacker in the northern Italian city of Milan, sparking fears amid the local Jewish community that it was an anti-Semitic attack. Nathan Graff, 40, suffered numerous knife wounds in the incident in the south western district of Lorenteggio, including a 7 cm cut on the face and three slashes across the back.
The ultraorthodox Jewish man, who was wearing a kippah when he was assaulted metres away from a kosher pizzeria, has been taken to a local hospital with moderate wounds. Police have launched a manhunt for the stabber that fled the scene.
Investigators said motives for the attack are not yet clear and currently there is no evidence to suggest it was of anti-Semitic nature. City authorities have nevertheless decided to take the precaution of stepping up security at Jewish sites such as schools and synagogues.
Representatives of the Italian Jewish community have expressed concerns the attack might be terrorism-related or linked to the wave of violence that has engulfed Israel and Palestine in recent weeks. "We hope this is an isolated incident," said a spokesperson from the Jewish Community of Milan. "We are close to the man and his family".
City councillor Ruggero Gabbai, a Jewish community member, told La Repubblica newspaper: "We fear this is something similar to what happened in Paris with 'lone wolfs' emulating what is happening in the middle east".
Graff had reportedly arrived in Milan with his daughter to visit his father-in-law, Hetzkia Levi, a local rabbi of Afghan descent. Residents from the area said the assailant attacked from behind, repeating "I kill you" twice in Italian, before leaving without uttering more words amid the screams of several eyewitnesses.
A woman who was walking her dog claimed she saw the man taking off his balaclava, revealing a light skin colour and blonde hair. Others maintained that after running away he boarded a getaway vehicle where two accomplices were waiting for him. Police said they are investigating the attack that happened around 8pm on 12 November.