The ceasefire that was to go into effect this weekend in Ukraine has done little to stop the violence threatening the nation’s people. The Jewish Press’ Hana Levi Julian writes that the conflict there is transforming, returning to one pitting Russia vs. the West, leaving the Jewish people – still relying on The Fellowship’s aid – in the crossfire:
Despite a cease-fire that went into effect one minute after midnight on Sunday, the conflict has apparently resumed between pro-Russia separatists and Ukraine government forces, but with clear Russian involvement …
For weeks the Russian-backed separatists have been focusing their attention on laying siege to the railway hub of Debaltseve, which so far has remained under the control of the Ukraine forces.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said at a briefing over the weekend that photos snapped in eastern Ukraine provided “credible pieces of evidence” that Russia herself – and not just separatist rebels – has been involved in the conflict.
“We are confident that [large amounts of artillery and multiple rocket launchers seen in the images around Debaltseve] are Russian military, not separatist systems,” Psaki said …
Artillery fire was also exchanged in massive shootouts around the rebel-held regions of both Donetsk and Lugansk. Rocket attacks were directed at areas around the government-held Azov Sea port city of Mariupol on Saturday as well.
Last week a teacher at the Chabad-Lubavitch preschool was killed in Donetsk when a rocket slammed into her apartment, killing her instantly. Irina Shelkayeba was an active member of the Donetsk Jewish community and a teacher at the Ohr Avner Preschool, Rabbi Aryeh Schvartz told Chabad.org.
The Beth Menachem synagogue – the only synagogue left in Donetsk – survived a narrow miss in a rocket attack that followed Shelkayeba’s death the same day. Instead, a minibus in a bus station some 300 meters away was hit by a shell in an attack that followed on the heels of the one that killed Shelkayeba.
Four people were killed in that attack, including the driver of the bus, which was incinerated along with a nearby vehicle. Nevertheless, the synagogue’s morning minyan (quorum) gathered to pray the regular morning service 90 minutes later as it does each day. Emergency food and supply packages sponsored by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews were then distributed at the Jewish Community Center next door to the synagogue.