Photography intern Israel Blizovsky had just finished taking pictures at a Crown Heights engagement party when a hulking teen he was passing on the sidewalk cold-cocked him without warning.
“He was very strong. I was in shock,” said the 19-year-old from Beersheva, Israel. “I saw a large group of black teenagers coming. I moved to the side to let them pass. Then, all of a sudden, when I was passing right next to them, I felt a punch in the face.
“They just kept walking. They were all laughing,” he told The New York Post through a Hebrew translator.
“They said something right after he punched me, but I don’t understand English. It looked like they were making fun of me.”
Blizovsky, whose tooth was chipped by the blow, is one of at least six Jewish people who have been attacked as part of a “knockout game” in the three weeks leading to the start of Hanukkah Wednesday, Brooklyn leaders said.
The brutal game — sometimes called “polar bear hunting” — has been on the rise across the country, with bystanders, usually white, suckerpunched for sport by black youths.
In Brooklyn, religious Jews appear to be the targets.
Fueled by Internet videos of the beatings, “knockout” attacks have also been reported in Chicago, Hoboken and Lansing, Mich.
In Jersey City, a 46-year-old man died in September after a sucker punch sent his head into an iron fence.
Blizovsky, who stands 5-foot-2 and weighs less than 100 pounds, was working for the COLlive community-news Web site and carrying a Nikon D600 camera when he was assaulted on Crown Street Nov. 14 at 9:30 p.m.
The gang, he said, ignored his expensive equipment.
“They didn’t look deprived,” Blizovsky said. “They didn’t look poor. They just looked like they wanted entertainment.”
Asked why he thinks he was targeted, he said: “[Jews] look gentle. We look like we won’t fight back.”
Local rabbis, witnesses and victims say there have been at least eight unprovoked attacks on Jews in Crown Heights, Midwood and Borough Park since Oct. 11, with six after Nov. 6.
Early Friday, an Orthodox Jew was jumped by four thugs after he heard them yapping about “knockout.”
“One of them stepped out towards me and, with a closed fist, hits me in the face,” said Shmuel Perl, 24.
“As I was able to walk away from them, they called after me, ‘Come back. I can do this. I will knock you out.’ ”
One man was arrested on charges of assault and aggravated harassment as bias crimes in the attack.
On Nov. 9, a 78-year-old Midwood woman was socked in the back of the head while pushing her great-granddaughter’s stroller on Avenue L and East Fifth Street. Fearing a repeat, she hasn’t left her home since.
“It’s scary,” her son-in-law said. “You’re 78, and someone hits you with a closed fist with all their might.”
The NYPD said it was aware of seven of the eight attacks.
“Our Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating these incidents,” a spokesman said. “There have been increased patrols in the 71st Precinct” in Crown Heights.
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Friday, “We are trying to determine if [the knockout game] is a real phenomenon . . . We have to be concerned about when you highlight an incident or a type of criminality, some people will simply try to copy.”
An NYPD source said he expects the department to “downplay the incidents.”
“Look, we’re at the end of the road,” he said. “All [Kelly] has to do is run out the clock the next five weeks. The last thing anyone wants is a major racial eruption in the last five weeks of the administration.”
Barry Sugar, head of the Jewish Leadership Council, says he has been asking Mayor Bloomberg and Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio for help with anti-Jewish attacks since August to no avail.
“We were concerned that the candidates weren’t aware of what was happening,” he told The Post.
“We made several attempts to reach out to Mr. de Blasio, but our overtures were not met with any kind of response.”
As for Blizovsky, who returns to Israel Monday, he vowed to be “more prepared” for his next visit to the Big Apple.
“I’ll bring a Taser.”