Police are investigating a suspected arson attack on a Jewish-owned restaurant.
CCTV footage shows the kosher Ta’am Restaurant being doused with a liquid by two men before bursting into flames on Friday night.
The restaurant had been due to open in the new location, close to its premises at the heart of the Jewish community in Prestwich, Manchester, yesterday.
Martine Vaizman, who has co-owned the business with her husband Amos for four years, said that seeing the footage “was the most horrendous feeling knowing that someone didn’t just wish us ill, but also followed through.
“I can’t understand who would be capable of doing such a thing.”
She said that she and her husband were not at the restaurant at the time of the fire because it was Shabbat, so they had only found out what happened on Saturday night, when Mr Vaizman turned his phone on.
“He got an alert to say the alarm had gone off at the shop. About 30 minutes later, he called me and said, ‘oh my God – there’s been a fire.’
“He presumed an electrical fault, but then he sat there watching the CCTV and saw these two men checking the place out, hiding petrol cans, breaking in, checking the coast was clear and dousing the place in petrol.
“Then they leave the shop and it goes up in a big fireball. It’s beyond words to explain the enormity of what’s happened to us.”
She said that only “multiple miracles” had stopped the fire from being disastrous, allowing the couple to only delay the opening until Friday at the latest.
“It went out by itself, which is a miracle, and thank god the fire engines didn’t come out, because the place would’ve been covered in water and we would have had water damage.
“It’s insane. There’s a huge gas line in there; it could’ve blown up the neighbourhood.”
The community’s response had been “amazing,” Mrs Vaizman said. “People have been coming to volunteer and help us to clean up. We’re so blessed to have the most special community around us.”
Mrs Vaizman, who was born in Israel, said she had initially thought the crime could be an antisemitic attack, but had reconsidered because “there’s no evidence of that.
“We’ve never had hate mail; everyone’s always been supportive. We don’t have enemies, but maybe someone didn’t want this shop to open.
“I don’t think it’s about our Judaism or because I’m Israeli.”
A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police said: “Two offenders were seen approaching the premises and smashing a window to gain entry. The offenders then used petrol to set fire to the cooking surface causing scorching damage.
“Officers have conducted extensive enquiries and the investigation remains ongoing. Police are keen to speak to anybody who was in the area on Friday and saw anything suspicious.”
Detective Inspector Jonathan Kelly said he was “keeping an open mind on the possible motivation for this incident,” but added that there was “no evidence to suggest that it was racially motivated.
“The offenders appear to have gone to great lengths to do what they did and the owners were extremely lucky that more damage was not caused.
“We are trying to establish the movements of the two offenders before and after the incident. Police patrols have been increased in the area and the victim has been given crime prevention advice.”