Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel Reuters

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday denounced the attack on a Jewish student outside a synagogue in Hamburg as a "disgrace".

"Such an attack is repulsive, no matter what investigations about the motivation and the condition of the perpetrator might show," said Merkel's spokesman Steffen Seibert, according to AFP.

“And it must be clearly stated by everyone in this society: in Germany, every such act is a disgrace,” he added.

German investigators said earlier on Monday they were probing the attack as attempted murder with anti-Semitic intent.

The suspect, a 29-year-old man who has been arrested, was dressed in combat fatigues and had a piece of paper with a hand drawn swastika in his pocket, said police and prosecutors in a statement.

"The current assessment of the situation suggests that this is an anti-Semitic motivated attack," they said, adding that investigators are treating it as a "attempted murder with grievous bodily harm".

The victim suffered serious injuries when the suspect beat the student in the head with a shovel. Security guards working at the synagogue intervened, detaining the suspect until police arrived.

The attack in Hamburg occurred almost exactly a year after a neo-Nazi attacked a synagogue in Halle, Germany.

The October 9, 2019 attack on a synagogue during Yom Kippur prayers was foiled when the gunman, Stephan Balliet, was unable to breach the synagogue’s door.

Unable to carry out the planned massacre in the synagogue, Balliet hot and killed two passersby, including a 40-year-old woman walking down the street and a man working at a nearby kebab shop.

Several weeks ago, Germany announced it was providing 22 million euros ($26 million) to improve security in synagogues and other Jewish sites in the country following last year’s attack in Halle.

According to data released in May, Germany recorded the highest number of anti-Semitic crimes nationwide since 2001 last year, with the vast majority of the anti-Jewish crimes reported ascribed to far-right wing perpetrators.

Following the Halle attack, the German government promised to introduce a law making it possible to increase penalties when a crime involved an anti-Semitic motive.