Rabbis from Israel and the United States are expected to visit the Ukrainian site of a mass grave believed to contain the remains of thousands of Jews slaughtered during World War II, local Jewish community representatives said Friday.
The grave was discovered by chance last month by workers digging to lay gas pipelines in the village of Gvozdavka-1, about 175 kilometers northwest of the Black Sea port city of Odessa, according to Jewish leaders and local officials.
Three rabbis are to arrive at the site in southern Ukraine on Monday to consider identification and reburial efforts and to evaluate the size of the grave, said Berl Kapulkin, spokesman for Odessa's Jewish community.
"The procedure of reburial is very difficult. Everything must be done according Jewish rules to respect the victims," Kapulkin told The Associated Press.
Both Jewish leaders in Ukraine and Holocaust scholars have said that thousands of Jews were brought to the area in 1941 and that as many as 10,000 were killed.
According to Ukrainian Jews, the names of only 93 of the Jews killed at the Gvozdavka-1 site have been established.
The regional Jewish community also has voiced plans to erect a fence around the site and put up a monument. On Thursday, the community asked local authorities to cede the land so the site could be commemorated and respected properly.
"A gas pipeline has already been put over people's bones. It is blasphemy," said Roman Shvartsman a Jewish community spokesman.
"Many bones are just lying on the ground," Shvartsman said.
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