Israeli police said on Thursday it would not increase the number of liaison
officers sent to beef up security at the annual Rosh Hashana pilgrimage to Uman,
in Ukraine, later this month despite last year’s violence which left one Israeli
dead and dozens wounded. The pilgrimage is to Rabbi Nachman of Breslov’s
“We’re sending six police officers to provide security the same
way we did last year and in coordination with local police,” said police
spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld. “If the events of last year repeat themselves we’ll
respond accordingly.”RELATED:Peres to Ukraine for strategy forum
Asked if that number was sufficient, Rosenfeld said
the onus of providing security to tens of thousands of visiting Jewish
worshipers is on Ukraine, not Israel.“At the moment it’s their job to provide
security for the event,” he said.
The Ukrainian embassy in Israel on
Thursday did not respond to inquiries about preparations for the event expected
to draw a record number of participants this year.
Jewish worshipers have
been visiting the sage’s gravesite since his death in 1810. During the early
20th century, thousands of Orthodox Jews would travel to the small Ukrainian
town over Rosh Hashana, but the tradition was suppressed by the Soviet Union,
only being reborn after its disintegration.
Over the past decade the
number of Jewish worshipers to the grave has skyrocketed.
gathering in Uman – the largest ever since the collapse of the Soviet Union –
drew about 40,000, but was marred by violence.
Several riots between
visiting worshipers, local residents and police erupted and had to be forcibly
Shmuel Tobul, a 19-year-old hassid from Israel, was stabbed to
death in an altercation with a thief on Succot. His murderer has not been
The ZAKA rescue and recovery organization said it was taking added
“This year we’re putting up cameras around the
gravesite,” said ZAKA spokesman Moti Bokjin. “There was simply no evidence to
work with last year.”
The Fellowship of Christians and Jews announced on
Wednesday it had donated NIS 1.2 million toward making improvements to the
gravesite, including the installation of a communications center, an emergency
generator and improved lighting.
Still, with the growing number of
participants many fear a repetition of violence to be inevitable.
said on Thursday it was better prepared to treat casualties than it had been the
year before, adding that it is setting up a makeshift hospital in Uman, bringing
seven doctors and 70 medics from Israel, and it has purchased an ambulance from
Germany to replace the aged ones in Uman.