June 19, 2024

Two Ukrainian citizens have been killed in Israel after extremist organization Hamas launched rocket and ground attacks from the Gaza Strip on Oct. 7, the Ukrainian embassy in Israel told news agency Interfax-Ukraine on Oct. 8.

Measures are being taken to organize the repatriation of the two people’s bodies, the embassy told Interfax.

The embassy didn’t elaborate on the circumstances of their deaths or their identity. There is still no other information about Ukrainian citizens among the wounded or missing.

There is a large Ukrainian community in Israel, estimated by the Foreign Ministry as being around 500,000, most of whom left Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The vast majority of them are Jews from Ukraine, but there are also tens of thousands of ethnic Ukrainians.

In addition, some 15,00040,000 Ukrainian refugees have entered Israel since the beginning of the full-scale invasion. It is unclear what their status is, or how many have stayed in the country.

The Foreign Ministry had initially said on Oct. 7 that no Ukrainians were among the victims of the violence after the attack on Israel.

The ministry announced it is opening an operational headquarters to help Ukrainians currently in Israel after the attack by Hamas, spokesperson Oleh Nikolenko wrote on Facebook.

Hamas launched an attack of unprecedented scale on Israel on Oct. 7, infiltrating Israeli territory on the ground as well as with ultralight aircraft, while also subhecting Israeli settlements to intense rocket bombardment.

At the time of this publication, fighting in Israel, as well as in Gaza, was still underway.

Over 100 Israeli civilians have been reportedly killed thus far and 740 wounded, and the number is reportedly expected to rise.

An unknown number of Israeli soldiers and civilians are also being held hostage. Palestinian authorities in Gaza said that 198 were dead amid the fighting.

Politically, Israel has largely refrained from explicitly backing a side in Russia’s war on Ukraine, and has thus far not provided any significant military aid to Ukraine.

Israel has complex relations with Russia, but has also long been enemies with Iran, a shared adversary of Ukraine.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued his first public statement after the attack, saying, “Citizens of Israel, we are at war. And we will win.”

Ukrainian President Volodmyry Zelensky denounced Hamas’ offensive, writing on Telegram, “Whoever uses terror is a criminal against the whole world. Whoever sponsors terrorism is a criminal against the whole world.”

Read also: Zelensky holds phone call with Netanyahu on visa-free travel

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