A Jewish synagogue was reportedly firebombed over the weekend in the Ukrainian city of Nikolayeve, a Black Sea port city with an estimated population of 500,000. At this time, neither the identities of the perpetrators nor what side they are aligned with in the ongoing regional conflict has been established.
Luckily, a good samaritan passerby located a fire extinguisher and knocked out the flames before much damage ensued.
The attack was recorded on closed-circuit security cameras and uploaded to YouTube.
“We came to synagogue on Shabbat morning, and it was quite scary. We saw the front door and window of the synagogue were blackened. He tried to light the synagogue on fire, but thank God, there are gates on the windows, so it did not go inside,” said the chief Rabbi of the synagogue.
The firebomb attack comes just days after people in the Eastern Ukraine city of Donetsk were seen distributing leaflets requiring Jews to register themselves with their new ‘authorities’ or be faced with deportation. The flyer, stamped “People’s Republic of Donetsk” at the bottom, also requires Jews 16 and older to pay a special $50 USD tax before May 3. Along with the fee, Donetsk’s Jewish citizens need to list all of their vehicles and real estate possessions before the deadline. Novosti Donbassa, a local news organization in Ukraine, reported the three men distributing the leaflets were “carrying the flag of the Russian federation” and had set up the operation outside of a synagogue in the city of Donetsk.
Reports of anti-Semitic activity have increased exponentially since the beginning of the year, with both sides of the conflict blaming their enemies as the overall instigators and perpetrators.
Prior to the firebomb incident, according to the Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism, the leaflet incident marked the 17th documented instance of anti-Semitic activity in Ukraine since the beginning of 2014.