Thousands Back Israel In Ukraine Rally

KIEV, Ukraine -- Several thousand people, mostly Ukrainian Jews, gathered in central Kiev on Monday to voice backing for Israel fighting Hizbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

An Israeli flag flies during a pro-Israeli demonstration in Kiev July 24, 2006. Several thousand people, mostly Ukrainian Jews, gathered in central Kiev on Monday to voice backing for Israel fighting Hizbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

About 5,000 students, schoolchildren and veterans waved Israeli flags and held aloft placards saying "Ukraine against terrorism" and "Yes to Israel, No to terrorism".

"We came here to show our support for Israel in its fight against the Hizbollah organisation," Vadim Rabinovich, head of the Jewish community, told the crowd.

In contrast with protests elsewhere denouncing the campaign in Lebanon, Ukraine's 100,000 strong Jewish community, turned out to show its support for the Jewish state.

Israel's 13-day-old onslaught, launched after Hizbollah seized two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid on July 12, has killed 372 people and wrecked many civilian installations in Lebanon. Some 37 Israelis have been killed by Hizbollah rockets.

Many of the demonstrators had travelled from throughout Ukraine to the protest venue -- a metal arch built in Soviet times to honour friendship between nations, overlooking the Dnieper River.

Post-Soviet authorities have made considerable efforts to repair relations between Ukrainians and Jews, uneasy in tsarist times and under Communism due to Soviet-era discrimination against Jews in education and employment.

Source: Reuters

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