KIEV, Ukraine (JTA) — Demonstrators in Kiev and Dnepropetrovsk waved Israeli flags, sang Hebrew hymns and danced to show support for Israel and its operation in the Gaza Strip.
More than 100 young people rallied Sunday near the Israeli Embassy in Kiev, according to rally organizer, the Ukrainian Union of Jewish Students. The rally came two days after a large demonstration in support of Hamas.
Zina Kalay-Klaitman, Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine, and Ukrainian Jewish leaders took part in the event.
“We gather to express solidarity with Israel and Israel’s defense against terrorism in the Gaza Strip and the right of Israel to defend itself against attacks from Gaza,” Marina Lysak, the leader of Betar in Ukraine, told JTA. “The U.N. and other organizations and leaders should understand that any cease-fire must guarantee an end to rocket fire from Gaza.”
The demonstrators carried placards that read “We express our strong solidarity with the State of Israel,” “Israel must defend itself" and “Kiev and Israel together!”, and signed a petition asking the United Nations to support Israel in its effort to stop terrorist attacks.
Also on Sunday, about 1,000 members of Dnepropetrovsk’s Jewish community, along with local government officials and representatives of ethnic and religious groups, held a pro-Israel rally, according to Oleg Rostovtzev, press-secretary of the Dnepropetrovsk Jewish community.
The participants adopted a resolution to express their solidarity with Israel and Israel’s operations in Gaza, placing responsibility for the current conflict on Hamas.
A day earier, about 1,000 pro-Palestinian demonstratorsgathered near the office of the United Nations in Kiev to protest Israel’s operation in Gaza. The protestors waved Palestinian flags.
Some Ukrainian officials and left-wing political leaders have expressed support for the Palestinians, condemning Israel’s operation.
The Ukrainian Parliament’s commissioner for human rights accused the Israel Defense Forces of perpetrating the “mass death of civilians" in Gaza which “testifies to neglect of the principals of international humanitarian law.” Ukraine’s foreign minister expressed doubt about the proportionality of military power used by Israel in its Gaza operation and called on Israel to compensate the family of a Ukrainian citizen and her child who were killed in Gaza Friday.
Ukrainian President Victor Yuschenko, according to his press secretary, “is concerned about the nearly 300 Ukrainian citizens remaining in Gaza.”
Anti-semitic incidents do not appear to have risen in Ukraine as a result of the Gaza operation and pro-Israel demonstrations.