WZO gives Russia list of Jewish sites in Ukraine to avoid, says some already damaged

The World Zionist organization says it has given Russia a list of Jewish heritage sites in Ukraine in hopes Moscow will avoid causing damage to them during its invasion.

WZO head Yaakov Hagoel gave the list to Russian Ambassador to Israel Anatoly Viktorov in Tel Aviv, which the envoy says will be forwarded to Moscow immediately.

“Ukraine is home to some of the most important and sensitive heritage sites for the Jewish people, including Holocaust memorials and monuments, ancient Jewish cemeteries, tombs of the righteous that serve as a pilgrimage site for many Jews and more,” Hagoel says in a WZO statement. “We must do everything in our power to preserve these sites for future generations, especially in light of the risks created in the area due to the ongoing fighting.”

The WZO says the list is the result of a field survey it carried out in Ukraine recently to map the sites and document their condition.

“The field inspection shows that a number of sites have already been damaged, and many are at risk of unintentional damage due to the fighting,” it says.

Ukrainian firefighters work to put out a blaze in a building in the Jewish cemetery located in Kyiv’s Babyn Yar Holocaust memorial site, on March 1, 2022. (State Emergency Service of Ukraine)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and others have repeatedly called out Russia for causing damage to Jewish heritage sites, including Kyiv’s Babyn Yar massacre memorial, while purporting to be fighting against “Nazis.”

Hagoel says that protecting the heritage sites is a secondary goal behind the humanitarian needs of Ukrainian citizens as they suffer through the heaviest fighting since World War II.

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