Jul 24, 2013
Shliach Wounded in Shooting
Rabbi Ovadia Isakov, Chabad Shliach in Dagestan, a largely Muslim republic in southeastern Russia, was shot. UPDATE (4:25 PM): He's being transported to Israel for treatment.
By COLlive reporter
Rabbi Ovadia Isakov, the Chabad Shliach and Chief Rabbi of Derbent, the second largest city of Dagestan, a largely Muslim republic in southeastern Russia, is fighting for his life.
At approximately 1 a.m. on July 25 an unknown man shot the rabbi near 65 Pushkina Street after the rabbi had stepped out of his car and headed for his home, the Russian Investigative Committee reported.
According to the Interfax news agency, Rabbi Isakov sustained an exit wound in the chest and was taken to the Derbent central city hospital in a grave condition.
The shooter escaped from the crime scene.
Dagestani detectives of the Russian Investigative Committee opened a criminal case on the counts of attempted murder and illegal arms turnover. "Religious activity of Isakov is one of the attempted murder theories of the detectives," said a police notice.
But this won't be the first time the rabbi has been a target.
In 2007 the Isakov home was attacked in the morning hours, while the rabbi, his wife Chaya Miriam Isakov and their children, including a 9-month-old baby, were in the bedroom at the time of the attack.
"This is a very Islamic place and the assumption is that he was shot because of his origin," said Baruch Gopin, spoksman of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Russia.
Please keep saying Tehillim for Ovadia ben Zehava Chaya for a full and speedy recovery.
UPDATE (10:29 AM EST):
The Federation of Jewish Communities in Moscow said a three-man team of Israeli medics was on route on a private plane to give the rabbi the best possible care.
The Federation, headed by Russia's Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar, has flown out from Israel a medical team consisting of a surgeon, paramedic and critical care physician.
In a statement on Thursday, Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar said he regretted that this attack was "far from being the first" incident of this kind, in which terrorists choose religious figures as targets for their attacks.
Extremists "have put themselves not only outside of any religion but also apart from humankind; their only goal is to kill innocent people, chiefly those who promote eternal values, morals and spirituality, in this world," he said.
"There is not and can be no compromise with terrorists: the state is not only entitled to but also obliged to use all means available against them," he said according to Interfax.
"Several well-known muftis in the Caucasus, who professed moderate Islam and who called for interethnic and interreligious peace, have died at the hands of such thugs," he said.
UPDATE (4:25 PM EST):
Rabbi Isakov has been transported by helicopter from Derbent to the Makhachkala airport, where an Israeli Air Force transport plane is waiting for him, Robert Simkhoyevich, the head of the Derbent Jewish community, told Interfax.
"An Israeli Air Force transport plane specially equipped to transport casualties has arrived for Isakov. The rabbi is currently being transported from Derbent to the Makhachkala airport, from where he will be transported to Israel, where he will undergo treatment in one of this country's medical institutions," Simkhoyevich said.
Most of Dagestan's Jews left the region during the post-Soviet economic and political turmoil. Only between 2,000 and 3,000 are left in the province wedged between Chechnya and the Caspian Sea.
Derbent, which claims to be the oldest city in Russia and has archaeological heritage over 5,000 years old, is a multi-ethnic city that has remained relatively untouched by the Muslim insurgency.
Dagestan's president, Ramazan Abdulatipov, condemned the attack and said that perpetrators of hate crimes "have no place in Dagestani society."