Six-year-old boy stabbed to death in hate crime linked to Israel-Hamas war
A US landlord in the state of Illinois was charged with murder and hate crimes Sunday after stabbing a woman and six-year-old boy dozens of times in an attack that police linked to the Israel-Hamas war. The police said both victims were targeted by the suspect due to them being Muslim.
Joseph Czuba, 71, stabbed the boy 26 times, who later succumbed to his injuries and was pronounced at the hospital. However, the 32-year-old woman, believed to be his mother, is expected to survive the “heinous” Saturday attack, according to a statement from the Will County sheriff’s office in Illinois.
“Joseph Czuba was charged with First Degree Murder, Attempted First Degree Murder, Hate Crime (2 counts), and Aggravated Battery with a Deadly Weapon. Detectives were able to determine that both victims in this brutal attack were targeted by the suspect due to them being Muslim and the on-going Middle Eastern conflict involving Hamas and the Israelis,” said the statement, which located the killing about 40 miles west of Chicago.
The police said the woman managed to call 911 as she fought off the landlord, Joseph Czuba. Though the police did not give details about the victims’ nationality, a Muslim civil rights and advocacy group described the child as Palestinian-American.
“Deputies located two victims inside the residence in a bedroom. Both victims had multiple stab wounds to their chest, torso, and upper extremities,” the sheriff’s statement said. A serrated military-style knife with a seven-inch blade was pulled from the boy’s abdomen during the autopsy, it added.
When police arrived they found Czuba sitting on the ground near the driveway of the residence with a laceration on his forehead. He was taken to hospital for treatment before being charged with murder, attempted murder, and two counts of hate crimes.
“He knocked on the door and attempted to choke her, and said, ‘you Muslims’ must die,” Ahmed Rehab, head of the Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told reporters, citing text messages sent by the woman to the murdered boy’s father from her hospital bed. The attack was “our worst nightmare,” the CAIR said in a statement.
Israel declared war on Hamas a week ago, a day after Palestinian outfit Hamas broke through the heavily fortified border and shot, stabbed and burned to death more than 1,400 people. The subsequent relentless bombing has flattened neighborhoods and left at least 2,670 people dead in the Gaza Strip, the majority ordinary Palestinians.
Police in US cities and federal authorities have been on high alert for violence driven by antisemitic or Islamophobic sentiments. Jewish and Muslim groups have reported an increase in hateful and threatening rhetoric on social media.