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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, May 19, 2024

Ukraine at War: The war-torn worlds of Ukraine and Israel in crisis

With the war unfolding between Israel and Hamas, Ukrainian refugees who came to Israel and the Gaza Strip experience déjà vu. Some of them refuse to ‘flee again.’

Ukraine at war Column Graphic

The Ukrainian media has been publishing in-depth coverage of the war between Israel and Hamas, as well as “end-of-the-day” summaries of key events of the last 24 hours. Some Ukrainian newspapers have been doing similar synopses of the main episodes of the war Russia has led against Ukraine since the start of the full-scale invasion. To state the obvious, observing two deadly wars happening simultaneously is unbelievable and heartbreaking.

Oct. 5 marked one of the deadliest attacks in Ukraine in recent months. It was also the deadliest strike experienced by the Kharkiv region since the start of Russia’s invasion. A Russian missile hit a cafe and a shop in the village of Hroza in the Kupyansk district, where a memorial service for a Ukrainian soldier was taking place. Among at least 55 casualties, all civilians, were a six-year-old boy and a 62-year-old woman. Six more people were wounded. Oleh Syniehubov, the leader of the local military administration, declared a period of mourning in the Kharkiv region, which lasted from Oct. 6–8. In my opinion, it would be fair to say that the entirety of Ukraine has been in mourning since we learned about the very first victims of Russian attacks, specifically after the photographs showing evidence of Russia’s crimes — mass graves and bodies of civilians on the streets of Bucha, Irpin and Hostomel in the early spring of 2022 — were spread on the internet.  

Following the start of the full-scale war in Ukraine, around 13,000 Ukrainians sought refuge in Israel. Some of them compare the level of terrorism of the Hamas surprise attack on Oct. 7 to events in the Kyiv Oblast, while parts of the region were still under Russian occupation. One of the refugees shared with Radio Free Europe that her family is exhausted from trying to escape a war. She states that she would “rather be useful” staying in Israel, supporting other Ukrainians who happen to be in the same position, than flee again. According to a Ukrainian refugee living in Gaza, the Ukrainian embassy in Israel is preparing “a list of Ukrainians to evacuate” from the Gaza Strip. Israeli attacks damaged apartment buildings in the district where the refugee and her family lived. Now, they are temporarily staying in her husband’s office.

When I saw photos of the recently attacked Israel and Gaza Strip for the first time, it seemed like I could hear the sound of explosions from air strikes. The pictures brought up fresh memories of waking up from the sound of missiles hitting residential buildings in Kyiv. Timelines of military events in national and global media, vigils in memory of killed citizens, the uncertainty about the future — all of it is too painfully familiar.