A car driving in Kyiv as seen through from a Ukrainian army position through the viewfinder of a Dragunov sniper rifle, March 1, 2022. (AP/Ricard Garcia Vilanova) (AP/Ricard Garcia Vilanova)

Ukrainian Jewish soccer player killed, Babyn Yar not damaged after all, Ukraine’s Chief Rabbi slams silence of Russian Jews.

By Pesach Benson, United With Israel

Russia continued to pound Kharkiv. A 40-mile long Russian military convoy en route to Kyiv remains stalled — presumably by fuel and food shortages.

According to UN figures, close to 836,000 Ukrainians have fled the country. The International Court of Justice announced it will begin holding hearings on war crimes allegations on March 7.

Israel and the Jewish world are closely watching the unfolding events. There is concern for the fate of thousands of Ukrainian Jews and Israeli nationals still in Ukraine, as well as the war’s unfolding strategic implications.

Here’s a quick hit look at the Jewish news you need to know about the war and its fallout.

*** Breaking News *** The International Federation of Professional Footballers confirmed the death of Ukrainian Jewish soccer player Dmytri Martynenko on Wednesday. The 25 year-old midfielder for FC Gostomel was killed with his mother when their apartment block in Kyiv was shelled.

The federation also announced the death a second Ukrainian soccer player, Vitalii Sapylo, who was killed in battle near Kyiv.

Dmitry Martynenko

Ukrainian Jewish soccer player Dmitry Martynenko (Twitter/Screenshot)


Yediot Aharonot reporter Ron Ben-Yishai in Kyiv visited Babyn Yar and reported the site was undamaged from Tuesday’s missile attack on an adjacent TV tower.

“It seems the reporting that the Babi Yar memorial itself was hit was part of the Ukrainian misinformation campaigned, aimed at destabilizing the enemy,” he wrote.

Babyn Yar

One of the monuments at Babyn Yar, Kyiv. (Shutterstock)

• A Kremlin spokesman called on Yad Vashem officials to visit the break-away Donetsk and Luhansk regions after the war to see purported mass graves of Russian-speakers allegedly killed by Ukrainians, Haaretz reported.

Spokesman Dmitry Peskov’s comments were apparently in response to Yad Vashem’s denunciation of missile strikes that were said to have damaged the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Complex on Tuesday.

• Sources in the Aliyah and Integration Ministry told the Jerusalem Post they have seen a spike in Russian interest in aliyah. Since the war began, approximately 3,500 Russians have asked to begin the immigration process — an average of 500 a day.

That’s in addition to 3,700 Ukrainians who have done likewise.

• News reports and social media posts estimate that there are 25-40 Jews left in Uman following steady Russian bombings. Jewish pilgrims flock to Uman to pray at the burial site of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov.

• In a thundering rebuke, Ukraine’s Chief Rabbi Moshe Azman called on Russian Jews to protest the war and show solidarity with Ukrainian Jews.

“Remember, that he who does not care and he who agrees silently, that is an accomplice to a crime. A war crime! A crime against humanity!” said the rabbi in a video.

“I never thought, even in my worst nightmare, that I might have to perish under the shells of Russia, where I was born, where I went to school, where I have many friends, who are silent,” said Rabbi Azman.

“Basically no one has called and asked. People call from all over the world. From all over the world. Jews and non-Jews. Even Arabs call me from Israel and support me.”

• European steps to rearm are boosting the value of shares in Israeli defense company Elbit Systems. “On Monday, Elbit’s share price shot up 15.5% on Nasdaq, passing the $200 threshold for the first time,” Globes reported.

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• Israel’s Channel 13 took some flak after footage from Star Wars was somehow mixed into its Ukraine coverage. An analysis of the video showed it to be a mashup of footage from a Russian dashboard camera with Star Wars stormtroopers in winter gear leaning against the remains of an Imperial TIE fighter.

“It’s unclear why the network made this error, but the most likely explanation is that this clip was deliberately placed within actual war footage or that it was bought from some third-party aggregator. It appears that the fake footage was first spread by a Telegram channel that has been covering the ongoing conflict,” Israel Hayom explained.

• Israel’s Deputy Ambassador to the UN Noa Furman condemned Russia’s invasion in a two-minute address to the UN General Assembly. The diplomatic downgrade is intended to soften the criticism of Moscow.

A non-binding resolution denouncing Russia is expected to pass by a wide margin, underscoring Moscow’s diplomatic isolation.