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Israeli flag burned at Ukraine Holocaust memorial

Kiev mayor appeals for help in tackling repeated anti-Semitic incidents at the Babi Yar site

Stray dogs roam the Babi Yar monument on March 14, 2016 in Kiev, where Nazis and local collaborators murdered 30,000 Jews in 1941. (Cnaan Liphshiz/JTA)
Stray dogs roam the Babi Yar monument on March 14, 2016 in Kiev, where Nazis and local collaborators murdered 30,000 Jews in 1941. (Cnaan Liphshiz/JTA)

The mayor of Kiev on Thursday appealed to authorities for help in identifying a group of individuals caught on camera burning an Israeli flag at the city’s Babi Yar Holocaust memorial.

The flag burning is the latest in a string of anti-Semitic incidents targeting the memorial to the 100,000 people murdered there by Nazis during War World II.

“Video surveillance recorded the group of young vandals burning the flag of the State of Israel near the Menora memorial, at Babi Yar,” Kiev Mayor Vitali Klitschko said in a statement, according to local media reports.

“This happened on the national Holocaust Remembrance Day, when the Jewish people all over the world remember the 6 million victims of Nazism, who perished during World War II,” he said.

Klitschko called the incident “unacceptable,” and appealed to law enforcement agencies for help in strengthening security measures at the site.

“It is intolerable to brutalize the memory of the victims. Especially at the place that which is globally known as one of the symbols of a terrible crime of fascism, at Babi Yar, where tens of thousands of people of different nationalities, the majority of them Jewish, were killed,” he said.

The Babi Yar memorial in Kiev, Ukraine, is defaced with swastikas in September 2014 (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)
The Babi Yar memorial in Kiev, Ukraine, is defaced with swastikas in September 2014 (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)

Babi Yar is the site of large-scale massacres carried out by Nazi German forces and local collaborators against Ukraine’s Jews, Soviet prisoners of war, communists and Gypsies.

The most notorious and best documented of those massacres took place on September 29-30, 1941, in which 33,771 Jews were murdered.

Historians estimate that between 100,000 and 150,000 people were killed at Babi Yar during the Nazi occupation of Ukraine.

Last year, swastikas were discovered daubed on the monument on five separate occasions. After officials found spray-painted Nazi symbols on the site’s menorah in February, a local Jewish leader told the Russia Today news website that vandals typically targeted the site around important memorial days including the Babi Yar Memorial Day, observed September 29, and international Holocaust Victims’ Memorial Day, observed January 27.

Thursday marked Yom Hashoah, Israel’s annual Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Earlier this year, the Ukrainian government pledged to allocate approximately $1 million to upgrade the Babi Yar memorial.

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