Police in Montreal are investigating a brazen midday assault against a Jewish man caught on video as a hate crime.

On Thursday in the Westmount area of the city two young men attacked an older Jewish man with a stick, hitting him from behind after attempting to grab an Israeli flag he was carrying,

The attack took place shortly after 1 p.m. Police were initially called about a robbery in progress. A video of the attack shot from an office building contains footage of two young men trying to grab a rolled up Israeli flag from a Jewish man, who was walking home from an Independence Day celebration, CBC News reported.

The two men give up trying to steal the flag and then one of them picks up a stick from the ground and begins to beat the man with it. He repeatedly hits the man and also a bystander who tries to help the victim.

Dan Goldstein, an eye witness who witnessed the assault from a building across the street told CBC News that he saw “about 20 people standing around and nobody seemed to know what they were doing and they didn't know how to intervene."

Goldstein went outside and screamed for someone to call the police, and that caused the two assailants to flee. He described how he chased the two suspects up the street but they turned a corner and disappeared.

He added that he knew the victim whose face was bloodied and had a head injury.

Police are looking for two men in their 20s for robbery and armed assault.

“Horrific – a Holocaust survivor in Montreal was accosted by 2 pro-Palestinians after a Yom Haatzmaut event,” StopAntisemitism tweeted. “The men tried to pull an Israeli flag out of the elderly man’s hands and ultimately hit him over the head with an object! These monsters belong in prison.”

In a joint statement, Montreal’s Federation CJA and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) condemned the attack, adding that Federation CJA Security was informed of the incident and was in contact with the Montreal police hate crimes unit.

“This act of open antisemitic hatred and violence is unacceptable and unwelcome in Montreal. We live in a free and democratic society in which we expect to be safe in our own city,” said Yair Szlak, CEO of Federation CJA. “There is absolutely no justification for violence of any sort in Montreal or elsewhere. We must all stand together against hate.”

“Jewish Montrealers and supporters of Israel deserve to feel safe when gathering for peaceful celebrations. Our message is loud and clear: acts of hate, antisemitism and violence have no place in our streets,” said Eta Yudin, Vice President of CIJA Quebec.

The assault occurred near Dawson College but police had no evidence that the assailants were students there.

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