Ukraine Update #62: Kramatorsk Jewish center hit by rockets; deadly violence escalates in Eastern Ukraine  

WASHINGTON, D.C. February 11, 2015

TO: NCSEJ Leadership and Interested Parties

FROM: Stephen M. Greenberg, NCSEJ Chairman;
Alexander Smukler, NCSEJ President;
Mark B. Levin, NCSEJ Executive Director


Ukraine Update #62


The conflict in Eastern Ukraine continues to escalate. Yesterday, the town of Kramatorsk in the Donetsk region came under shelling, reportedly killing fifteen and wounding sixty people, including children. According to the Donetsk regional administration, the rockets were fired from the separatist-held town of Horlivka.


The shelling struck several apartment buildings in Kramatorsk. Two of the rockets hit the Kramatorsk Hesed center building, but did not explode. NCSEJ spoke today with Galina Davydovna, a director of the Hesed center, who said that community members were safely evacuated from the building, and sustained no injuries. She said that despite the danger, Hesed workers continue their efforts to help Jewish elderly and needy in Kramatorsk. She also reported that because of the shelling, many Jewish community members' apartments sustained damage and require repairs.


JDC, which supports the Hesed center's activity, released a statement on the attack. "This latest development is another stark reminder of the harsh conditions on the ground that impact the lives of the most vulnerable in Ukraine every day," said JDC CEO Alan Gill. "We remain vigilant and dedicated to delivering humanitarian aid to the thousands in Ukraine who are facing violence, scarcity of food and medicine, and the harsh winter months."


Last night, a rocket attack in Donetsk injured one, and killed two people, including Jewish community member Irina Shelkayeba. According to community leader Yehuda Kellerman, a rocket hit her apartment building's roof. The local community is organizing funeral services for tomorrow.


Nineteen Ukrainian soldiers were killed and seventy-eight were injured yesterday as the pro-Russian rebels continued their offensive on the town of Debaltseve. Today, five more people died in Donetsk.


Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) reported that the evacuation of Jews from Donetsk, Luhansk, and several other towns intensified. Jewish Agency's Mayak Refugee Center near Dnipropetrovsk continues to provide shelter to refugees in the process of aliyah; JAFI's offices in Donetsk and Mariupol remain open.  


As the death tolls continue to rise, efforts to reach a new peace agreement are under way. Leaders of Ukraine, Russia, Germany, and France are holding talks in Minsk, Belarus on ending the deadly conflict. It is unclear whether a breakthrough may occur, as the rebels have indicated that they would seek significant concessions from Ukraine's government, including recognition of the Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics and full amnesty for their fighters.


The U.S. continues to debate the provision of arms to Ukraine. On Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in Washington to discuss solutions to the Ukraine crisis. Chancellor Merkel has opposed sending arms to Ukraine and said that "she doesn't see a military solution to this conflict." EU-U.S. cooperation in response to the crisis has been an important component of U.S. policy, and is likely to influence any U.S. decision on providing arms to Ukraine.


Founded in 1971, NCSEJ represents the organized American Jewish community in monitoring and advocating on behalf of the estimated 1.5 million Jews in Eastern Europe and Eurasia, including the 15 successor states of the former Soviet Union. 
Phone: 202-898-2500 
NCSEJ is a beneficiary of The Jewish Federations of North America and the National Federation/Agency Alliance through its network of Federations.