A man in the United States was charged with a hate crime on Sunday after allegedly stabbing a six-year-old Muslim boy dead and seriously injuring his mother in an attack the police claim was linked to the conflict between Israel and Palestinian militant group Hamas, the Associated Press reported.

The 32-year-old mother called the police late on Saturday after she was allegedly attacked by her 71-year-old landlord Joseph Czuba with a knife. The body of the child, a Palestinian-American, and the wounded woman were found at a home about 65 kilometres southwest of Chicago, the police said.

The woman is expected to survive the attack, according to the police.

Will County Sheriff’s Office said that its detectives have determined that the victims were targeted “due to them being Muslim” amid the Israel-Hamas war.

“Despite the suspect not providing a statement to detectives, personnel were able to gather enough information through interviews and evidence to formally charge Joseph Czuba with numerous criminal offenses,” the police said.

Beside hate crime, the charges include first degree murder, attempted first degree murder and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

While the police did not reveal the victims’ identities, the six-year-old’s paternal uncle said at a press conference on Sunday that the boy’s name is Wadea Al-Fayoume, the Associated Press reported.

On October 7, Hamas militants conducted a cross-border assault on Israel. In response, Israel declared a siege of Gaza two days later and launched a series of airstrikes ahead of a reportedly imminent ground operation. It also stopped water, fuel and power supplies to Gaza.

At least 2,600 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since the war broke out. The toll on the Israeli side stood at 1,300. At least 30 United States citizens have died in the conflict, according to the State Department.

Police and federal authorities in the United States and some other Western nations are on high alert for possible hate crimes as well as intensified Islamophobic and antisemitic rhetoric amid the conflict.

The Chicago office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights and advocacy group, on Sunday described the boy’s murder as “our worst nightmare”.

United States President Joe Biden said on Monday that he was “shocked and sickened” to learn about the killing.

“As Americans, we must come together and reject Islamophobia and all forms of bigotry and hatred,” Biden said in a statement released by the White House. “I have said repeatedly that I will not be silent in the face of hate. We must be unequivocal. There is no place in America for hate against anyone.”

Biden added, “This horrific act of hate has no place in America, and stands against our fundamental values: freedom from fear for how we pray, what we believe, and who we are.”

He sent his condolences to the victims’ family and to the “broader Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim American communities”.