Israel urges peaceful end to conflict

Georgia's chief rabbi says three or four Jews reported missing from S. Ossetian border city.

Abkhazia fighting 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Abkhazia fighting 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Israel is following with great concern the developments in South Ossetia and Abkhazia and hopes the violence will end, the Foreign Ministry said Sunday following a meeting conducted by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. The Foreign Ministry statement went on to say that Israel recognizes the territorial integrity of Georgia and calls for a peaceful solution. Meanwhile, Georgian Chief Rabbi Ariel Levine, who arrived in Israel on Thursday, said that there were reports of three or four Jews missing from the city of Tskhinvali, which borders South Ossetia. Levine said that the vast majority (7,000) of Georgia's 9,000 Jews lived in Tbilisi and that most of the Georgian Jews who were considering leaving the area planned to come to Israel, where most have family. "People are afraid of bombings and artillery fire," said Levine. "The Jewish community is located only 60 kilometers from Gori, which was already bombed. People are not leaving their houses. Many are planning to come to Israel." The Jewish Agency for Israel has assisted some 200 Jews living near the town Gori, on the South Ossetian border, to evacuate to the Georgian capital since the outbreak of hostilities. The Jewish Agency said that most of the Jews had heeded the warning and were en route to Tbilisi, where the rest of the country's 12,000 Jews reside, mainly in the area of the capital. Since 1989, 23,287 individuals have immigrated to Israel from Georgia under the auspices of the Jewish Agency for Israel. In 2007, there were 324 new immigrants compared with 260 immigrants in 2006. Russia expanded its bombing blitz Sunday against the country, targeting the country's capital for the first time. Georgia tried to retake control of separatist South Ossetia, which has close ties with Russia, in a military operation this week. Nearly 2,000 people have been reported killed in the hostilities since the fighting started on Friday. AP contributed to this report