Shot Ukrainian mayor undergoes surgery in Israel

UPDATE: Ukrainian mayor undergoes second operation at Israel’s Rambam Hospital

(JTA) — The Jewish mayor of Ukraine’s second-largest city underwent surgery in an Israeli hospital for a gunshot wound from a suspected assassination attempt.

Gennady Kernes, who heads the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, was operated on Tuesday at the Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa after being flown to Israel earlier in the morning. He was stabilized at Elisha Hospital in the same city before being transferred to Rambam.

Kernes was shot in the neck on Monday during his routine morning jog.

“Israeli doctors arrived last night, praised our doctors’ work and recommended he be transferred for treatment in Israel,” Kharkiv City Council member Yuri Sidorenko told Interfax Ukraine. “The doctors deemed his condition to be safe for travel and at 3:20 a.m. his plane took off from Kharkiv.”

Ukrainian officials have opened an investigation into the shooting, according to Interfax.

Ukraine has seen deadly clashes between political opponents since the eruption in November of a revolution that started with protests over then-President Viktor Yanukovych’s perceived pro-Russian policies. Yanukovych was ousted from power in February and replaced with an interim government that has scheduled elections for next month.

Kernes reportedly has played a major role in the confrontations between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian forces in the city. He had been a supporter of Yanukovych and then changed his stance, saying he does not support the pro-Russia insurgents or the annexation of Ukrainian territory.

Several anti-Semitic attacks, including two stabbings and two attempts to torch synagogues, have occurred since November in Ukraine, a country with relatively low levels of anti-Semitic violence.

According to the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress, the 2009 election campaign in which Kernes became mayor was mired with anti-Semitic hate speech targeting him and other Jewish candidates.

CORRECTION: JTA had reported Tuesday that Kernes was operated on at Elisha Hospital.

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