Kiev demonstrators rally for Israel

KIEV, Ukraine (JTA ) — Demonstrators rallied in Kiev in support of Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip.

Some 300 people gathered Wednesday near the Israeli Embassy in an event organized by the Ukrainian Jewish Committee. Participants, of all ages and backgrounds, included non-Jewish supporters of Israel. It was one of three such events this week in Ukraine’s largest Jewish population centers, Kiev and Dnepropetrovsk.

“We express our support for Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorism in the Gaza Strip and to explain to the Ukrainian and international community that this fight against Hamas is a part of a global campaign against international terrorism,” Jewish lawmaker Aleksandr Feldman, the president of the Ukrainian Jewish Committee, told JTA.

Feldman added that the committee would welcome a cease-fire only if Hamas puts an end to its repeated terrorist attacks.

The rally came five days after a large rally in support of Hamas near the offices of the United Nations in Kiev to protest Israel’s operation in Gaza. Some 250 people gathered on Jan. 10 in Simferopol, Crimea, to protest the operation in Gaza.

Wednesday’s pro-Israel demonstrators carried placards that read “We express our strong solidarity with the State of Israel,” “Israel must defend itself” and “Ukraine and Israel together!"

Anti-Semitic acts do not appear to have risen in Ukraine as a result of the Gaza operation and pro-Israel rallies.

Meanwhile, another 191 Ukrainian citizens want to be evacuated from the Gaza Strip, according to a report by the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. According to the Ukrainian Embassy in Israel, approximately 300 Ukrainians are now in conflict zones in the Gaza Strip.

On Jan. 9, President Viktor Yushchenko ordered the ministry to ensure the evacuation of all Ukrainian citizens willing to be evacuated from the Gaza Strip; 47 were evacuated that day. On Jan. 3, Ukraine evacuated 46 of its citizens from Gaza.

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