A Russian strike on a TV tower in Kyiv on Tuesday afternoon has also damaged the Babi Yar Holocaust memorial site, according to Ukrainian authorities.
“Russia has launched a missile attack on the territory where the Babyn Yar memorial complex is located. These villains are killing Holocaust victims for the second time,” Andriy Yermak, chairman of the Ukrainian Presidential Office, said on Twitter.
RUSSIAN FORCES STRIKE BABYN YAR HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL SITE. Reaction of BYHMC Advisory Board Chair @NatanSharansky
— BABYN YAR Holocaust Memorial Center (@babynyarhmc) March 1, 2022
Natan Sharansky, chair of the advisory board of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center, confirmed the damage.
“[That] Putin seeks to distort and manipulate the Holocaust to justify an illegal invasion of a sovereign democratic country is utterly abhorrent. It is symbolic that he starts attacking Kyiv by bombing the site of the Babyn Yar, the biggest of Nazi massacre[s],” Sharansky wrote.
On Twitter, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky lamented the irony of the memorial being hit.
“What is the point of saying ‘never again’ for 80 years, if the world stays silent when a bomb drops on the same site of Babyn Yar?” he wrote.
He added that “at least 5 killed. History repeating…”
Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid strongly condemned the attack on the Babi Yar site.
“We condemn the attack on the Jewish cemetery near the memorial site commemorating the Holocaust of the Jews of Kyiv and the murder of the Jewish people in Babi Yar. We call for preserving and respecting the sanctity of the site,” Lapid wrote.
Yad Vashem also “vehemently condemned” the strike by Russian forces and urged the international community to take action, stating, “We call on the international community to take concerted measures to safeguard civilian lives as well as these historical sites because of their irreplaceable value for research, education and commemoration of the Holocaust. Rather than being subjected to blatant violence, sacred sites like Babi Yar must be protected.”
The Babi Yar Holocaust memorial sits on top of a mass grave containing some 34,000 Jews who were murdered there in 1941 by the Nazis and their collaborators during their occupation. Last year, plans were unveiled to erect a new memorial center on the site to commemorate the atrocity.
Separately, on Tuesday, the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Center also asked the International Criminal Court to speak out against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s false claims of genocide as a pretext for war.
“If President Putin wants to denounce genocide, he should reach out to those in the system of international justice, not begin a war against the people of Ukraine under false pretenses,” the center said in a statement.
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