Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attended a memorial ceremony at Babi Yar, where thousands of Jews were massacred in 1941 by the Nazis, on Monday.
Netanyahu is the first head of state to visit Ukraine since Zelensky, who is Jewish and a former actor, was elected president of the eastern European nation. He is also, according to Israeli reports, the only Israeli leader to visit Ukraine over the past two decades.
In September 1941, the Nazis rounded up all the remaining Jews in Kiev, and brought them to Babi Yar, located just northwest of the city and shot 33,000 to death over two days. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Babi Yar represented “one of the largest mass murders at an individual location during World War II.”
At the commemoration, Netanyahu said, “I say in a clear voice, especially here, it’s our obligation to stand up to murderous ideologies so there won’t be another Babi Yar… we’ll always defend ourselves against any tormentors.”
He added: “We will never forget the suffering of our people, but at the same we will honor those righteous who risked their lives to rescue our people.”
Prior to the commemoration at Babi Yar, Netanyahu also attended ceremonies at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and at the Holodomor Victims’ Memorial.
The two leaders discussed trade and economic matters. They agreed to start working on extending the Free Trade Agreement in place between the two countries. Israel is Ukraine’s largest trading partner in the Middle East with over $1 billion in trade annually, according to Zelensky.