web analytics
August 26, 2016 / 22 Av, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Donetsk’

Ukraine Jews Come ‘Home’ Helped By Israel & IFCJ

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

A new group of 235 immigrants from Ukraine landed this week at Ben Gurion Internation Airport. Many of them arrived still badly traumatized from their experiences over the past two years in war-torn areas of the former Soviet satellite.

Many have been homeless, wandering from town to town, ducking bullets and praying for safety. More than a few have found themselves in the middle of what is known as the “The Republic of Luhansk”, a separatist state established in eastern Ukraine by Pro-Russian separatist forces. It is now a battlefield between the two factions.

The new Israelis made the trip with special assistance from the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. The organization is helping the new immigrants with grants of $1,000 for every adult and $500 per children. The group also paid for each new immigrant’s flight to Israel.

The flight was one of 28 that was arranged by the IFCJ in the past three months in order to bring new immigrants to Israel. On those flights were more than 4,000 new olim who came home to the Jewish State from places like Ukraine, France, South America and elsewhere.

The assistance came in additition to the regular benefits package provided to new immigrants by the State of Israel Ministry of Immigration and Absorption.

The youngest of the new olim is only six months old, and the oldest is age 95. They are set to live in 30 different cities across Israel, including Nahariya, Haifa, Netanya, Afula, Bat Yam, and Eilat.

Hana Levi Julian

Ukraine Conflict Transforming to ‘Russia versus the West’

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

Despite a cease-fire that went into effect one minute after midnight on Sunday, the conflict has apparently resumed between pro-Russia separatists and Ukraine government forces, but with clear Russian involvement.

The European Union has responded by activating sanctions against nine organizations and 19 people in Russia, including two Russian deputy defense ministers and Iosef Kobzon, age 77 — a Jewish man known as the “Russian Frank Sinatra.”

Kobzon is a long-time member of the Russian parliament. Sanctions were imposed against him because he “visited the so-called Donetsk People’s Repubic and during his visit made statements supporting separatists” after the Kremlin annexed Crimea, seizing it from Ukraine, the EU Official Journal explained. Donetsk is Kobzon’s birthplace.

For weeks the Russian-backed separatists have been focusing their attention on laying siege to the railway hub of Debaltseve, which so far has remained under the control of the Ukraine forces.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said at a briefing over the weekend that photos snapped in eastern Ukraine provided “credible pieces of evidence” that Russia herself – and not just separatist rebels – has been involved in the conflict.

“We are confident that [large amounts of artillery and multiple rocket launchers seen in the images around Debaltseve] are Russian military, not separatist systems,” Psaki said.

Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in a phone conversation on Saturday to discuss the situation. Kerry expressed concern over what he called efforts by Russia and separatists to cut off the town ahead of the cease-fire.

Artillery fire was also exchanged in massive shootouts around the rebel-held regions of both Donetsk and Lugansk. Rocket attacks were directed at areas around the government-held Azov Sea port city of Mariupol on Saturday as well.

Last week a teacher at the Chabad-Lubavitch preschool was killed in Donetsk when a rocket slammed into her apartment, killing her instantly. Irina Shelkayeba was an active member of the Donetsk Jewish community and a teacher at the Ohr Avner Preschool, Rabbi Aryeh Schvartz told Chabad.org.

The Beth Menachem synagogue – the only synagogue left in Donetsk – survived a narrow miss in a rocket attack that followed Shelkayeba’s death the same day. Instead, a minibus in a bus station some 300 meters away was hit by a shell in an attack that followed on the heels of the one that killed Shelkayeba.

Four people were killed in that attack, including the driver of the bus, which was incinerated along with a nearby vehicle. Nevertheless, the synagogue’s morning minyan (quorum) gathered to pray the regular morning service 90 minutes later as it does each day. Emergency food and supply packages sponsored by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews were then distributed at the Jewish Community Center next door to the synagogue.

The city’s Chabad emissary, Rabbi Pinchas Vishedski, said, “We have recently known many especially difficult and terrible days. I ask that Jews worldwide pray for their brethren in the war-torn territories – for everyone living in danger – and that they should all have peace and security.”

Hana Levi Julian

Dead, Wounded as Donetsk Hospital Shelled in Eastern Ukraine

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

At least four people are dead according to the International Business Times and numerous others wounded after a hospital in the rebel-controlled city of Donetsk was shelled today in eastern Ukraine.

“There are multiple casualties at the hospital. A preliminary count says more than 15 people were killed,” local emergency services told the Interfax news agency.

In a statement on its website, the city administration confirmed there had been an attack on the hospital, saying “there was an artillery shell at 12 noon… the shell hit a hospital, there are dead and wounded.”

A correspondent for the Russia-based RT news service reported from the scene that rockets hit the hospital and an apartment building next door.

Nearby schools also were damaged in the blast, city officials said, which comes as European Union policy chief Federica Mogherini called for an immediate ceasefire to allow civilians to leave the conflict zone.

Last week scores of people were killed, including children, after pro-Russian separatists fired Grad missiles at a residential neighborhood in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, still held by Kiev government forces.

Mortar fire and rocket fire is regularly aimed at residential areas in the two main rebel-held cities of Donetsk and Lugansk. Separatists who want to secede from Ukraine blame the Kiev government for the attacks.

A truce that had been arranged several months ago between rebel forces and Kiev collapsed in January.

“The OSCE monitors should investigate the site of the attack, determine the direction and the location from which the barrage was fired and report their findings,” said Andrey Purgin, spokesperson for the self-proclaimed Donetsk Peoples’ Republic.

According to the most recent estimate by the United Nations, at least 5,358 people have died in the revolt by pro-Russian Ukrainians.

Hana Levi Julian

Jews Struggling to Survive as Fighting Intensifies in Eastern Ukraine

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

In eastern Ukraine, Jews are scrambling to survive as fighting intensifies between Russian-backed rebels and the Ukraine army.

At least nine people were killed this morning (Jan. 22) when a civilian bus was shelled in the city of Donetsk, capital of the province bearing the same name. The Ukraine defense ministry told the BBC that its troops have retreated from the main terminal of Donetsk airport, which is not in use. The facility still has symbolic value for both sides, however, and the army’s loss of the terminal is a major victory for the rebels.

More than 4,800 have died and some 1.2 million are homeless since the rebels seized control last April over parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The move followed Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March, a peninsula which belonged to Ukraine.

In the Lugansk (also called “Luhansk”) Jewish community, things have remained relatively quiet, according to local Jewish sources who asked for anonymity. But one can hear the sounds of war not far away, and a family can lose all its food if the house is left alone for more than a day.

Hungry neighbors feel no shame in foraging for anything they can find – anywhere – even in the homes of others.

Trains no longer go into Lugansk, a community member explains, and “the connection with Ukraine is growing dimmer by the day.”

For the Jews in the city, a major lifeline of support has been thrown by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, headed by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. The organization funds Chabad-run refugee camps in the region, and sends thousands of care packages to needy Jewish families in the battered Donbass region. Likewise, Ohr Avner and the Rohr Family Foundation have been continued pillars of support essential to helping the Jews of eastern Ukraine survive.

Some Jews from the region have managed to reach Israel via aliyah already, but many still remain in Ukraine. Those who have chosen to escape the horror — even if it means moving to a strange new land and learning a new language — at least have a familiar face to greet them: exiled Chabad-Lubavitch emissary to Lugansk, Rabbi Sholom Gopin and his wife Chana are in Israel too.

The Gopins were forced to move temporarily to Kfar Chabad due to the intense fighting in the region. Gopin told Chabad.org recently that he makes the three and a half hour flight back and forth to Ukraine often in order to visit community members and ensure that help gets through to those still living in Lugansk.

In Donetsk, not so far from Lugansk, the Jewish community is also struggling but has seen more violence. Last September, just before Rosh HaShanah, the community lost one of its prominent members to rebel banditry.

Garik Zylberbord, 47, was shot to death while trying to stop pro-Russian rebels from robbing his neighbor’s home. Zylberbord was a community leader and a long-time friend of the exiled chief rabbi and co-director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Donetsk, Rabbi Pinchas Vishedski.

Having made plans to meet the rabbi in a few days in Kiev where Vishedski had been forced to flee with his family just two weeks prior, Zylberbord appeared earlier than planned, the rabbi noted sorrowfully: to attend his own funeral.

Vishedski and his wife Dina have set up a Donetsk Jewish community office in Kiev to help the lost and struggling Jews of his city who found refuge there and in other parts of Ukraine. “Calls start at the crack of dawn and don’t stop the entire day,” said Vishedski, “not only from poor families but now also from regular, middle-class people who also have no money or food right now.”

Hana Levi Julian

Chabad Rabbi Remains with Trapped Jews as Ukraine Troops, Rebels, and Russians Fight for Mariupol

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Jews in Mariupol, Ukraine are caught between the proverbial ‘rock and a hard place’ with nowhere to run as the winds of war whirl into their community. Chabad-Lubavitch emissary and rabbi of the city, Rabbi Mendel Cohen, has remained to serve his brethren in what has become one of the greatest challenges of his life.

Pro-Russian separatists, Russian tanks and Ukraine forces are all rapidly converging on the key southeastern port city to fight for control.

The nearby town of Novoazovsk reportedly has fallen to the rebels over the past 24 hours, according to a report by the BBC which quoted Russian TV. The Ukraine government told media that Russian forces have crossed the border in support of the rebel advance — a charge denied by Moscow.

The besieged cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, further north, have been embattled for months. The self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), where the city of the same name is located, has attempted to secede from Ukraine. DPR Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko told Russian TV there were up to 4,000 Russian citizens within the ranks of the separatist rebel army, “former high-ranking military officers who have volunteered to join us. They are fighting with us, considering that to be their duty.

“There are also many in the current Russian military that prefer to spend their leave among us, brothers who are fighting for their freedom, rather than on a beach.”

“People are very worried right now,” Rabbi Cohen told Chabad.org. “There are lines at all of the gas stations and ATMs and people are stocking up on food, so there is nothing left in the stores. We don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Mariupol, the second-largest city in Donetsk, is only 35 miles from the Russian border and Russian is the primary language. In February, pro-Russian separatists seized the city’s administrative buildings and maintained control over the city for months.

Kiev sent troops and battled for control over the city in a fierce fight that ended at the city’s police station. At least six were killed in the offensive and it took until June 13 before the Ukraine government forces managed to secure total control over the city.

Rabbi Cohen described “armed men with masks right next to the shul,” saying it was “dangerous to walk around in the street” until June. Since then, however, “thank God it has become more stable.”

The sense of unease has returned, however.

Over the past month, more than 330,000 people have been displaced by combat in Donetsk to the north, and Lugansk to the east. Some 2,000 people have been killed so far, according to some estimates.

Many refugees have ended up in Mariupol. This week the sounds of shelling are much closer. Mariupol’s Jews so far insist on staying, fearing the dangers on the road to freedom more than the uncertainties facing them in their own homes. The Chabad emissary says he will stay as long as he can to aid the community.

“We have a minyan three times a day and Torah classes. Our day camp just ended, and we are now preparing for the school year,” Cohen said. The Jewish community has also worked to supply food packages to a growing number of people who need them.

Out of four emissaries serving southeastern Ukraine, Rabbi Cohen is the only one left. Three others were forced to re-evaluate their situations, along with the Jews of Donetsk, Lugansk and Maakeevka.

‘I hope and pray they will be able to return to their work very soon,” Rabbi Cohen said.

Hana Levi Julian

Malaysia Airlines Passenger Jet Crashes, Possibly Shot Down in Eastern Ukraine

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Nearly 300 passengers were killed Thursday as their Malaysia Airlines flight crashed in eastern Ukraine near the Russian border on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

The Boeing 777 may have been shot down, according to Ukraine President Petro O. Poroshenko, who called for an immediate probe of the tragedy, Interfax news agency reported.

Anton Gerashenko, an aide to the Ukrainian interior minister, wrote on his Facebook page that flight number MH17 was flying at an altitude of 33,000 feet over the region when it was hit by a missile, The Independent newspaper reported. Gerashenko wrote that the jet was hit by a missile fired from a Buk launcher and crashed near the city of Donetsk, a stronghold of pro-Russian rebels. The system is capable of launching missiles up to an altitude of 72,000 feet.

There has been fierce fighting between pro-Russian separatists and government forces in the eastern part of Ukraine for months.

Hana Levi Julian

Ukraine Rebels Hold European Observers Hostage

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Separatist fighters in the eastern Ukraine region of Donetsk confirmed Thursday they are holding four missing observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe as hostages.

The pro-Russian rebels also shot down a Ukrainian government military helicopter Thursday during heavy clashes around the city of Sloviansk – located in the northern part of the Donetsk province — killing 14 people. Among the dead was General Volodymyr Kulchitsky, the BBC reported. The rebels allegedly used a Russian-made anti-aircraft system.

There has been heavy fighting over the past several weeks in the area, located about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Ukraine’s border with Russia.

According to reports by the Associated Press, residents in Sloviansk – a hotbed of separatist forces — have been regularly shelled with mortar fire by government forces. Civilian casualties have been high, and some residents are fleeing, according to the reports.

The Jewish Agency for Israel evacuated a couple with two twin baby girls from the city of Donetsk (capital of the province) and another couple from the city of Mariupol, south of Donetsk city, out of Ukraine in a rescue operation earlier this week. The six were already set for aliyah, but the decision to rescue them was made due to the fierce battle that started over the Donetsk airport between Ukraine’s army and pro-Russian militants. They traveled overland to the Kiev airport and then flew from there on to Israel.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/ukraine-rebels-hold-european-observers-hostage/2014/05/29/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: