Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid condemned on Sunday the killings in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha revealed after Russian troops retreated from the capital region.
"It is impossible to remain indifferent in the face of the horrific images from the city of Bucha near Kyiv, from after the Russian army left.," Lapid tweeted. "Intentionally harming a civilian population is a war crime and I strongly condemn it."
Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, Israel has walked a tightrope in an attempt to comply with American demands to speak out against Russia’s actions while simultaneously avoiding alienating Moscow – which allows the Israeli Air Force to carry out strikes against Iranian targets in Syria.
As the war progressed, Israel saw a need to remain neutral even in light of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's mediation efforts between the parties. Bennett has never condemned Russia, leaving the job to Foreign Minister Lapid instead. While Israel supported a United Nation General Assembly resolution condemning Moscow, it declined to back a similar motion placed before the Security Council.
After recapturing Bucha, Ukrainian troops found brutalized bodies and widespread destruction in suburbs of the capital as Russian soldiers withdraw and Moscow focuses its attacks elsewhere, including missile strikes Sunday that targeted fuel and ammunition supplies in southern and eastern Ukraine.
Associated Press journalists in the city reported seeing the bodies of nine people in civilian clothes who appeared to have been killed at close range. At least two had their hands tied behind their backs. The AP also saw two bodies wrapped in plastic, bound with tape and thrown into a ditch.
Authorities said they were documenting evidence as Ukraine's military reclaims territory and discovers indications of execution-style slayings to add to their case for prosecuting Russian officials for war crimes.
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Oleksiy Arestovych, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said scores of killed civilians were found on the streets of Bucha and the Kyiv suburbs of Irpin and Hostomel in what looked like a “scene from a horror movie," adding that some people we shot in the head, had their hands bound, or showed signs of torture, rape and burning.
Earlier on Sunday Israel’s ambassador to Ukraine also denounced the killing of civilians in a Kyiv suburb as a “war crime.” “Deeply shocked by the photos from #Bucha. Killing of civilians is a war crime and cannot be justified,” Ambassador Michael Brodsky tweeted on Sunday morning, using the hashtag #UkraineRussiaWar.
Asked if the Foreign Ministry’s official position was that Russia had committed war crimes in Ukraine, a spokesman replied: “No. It’s a tweet by the ambassador regarding the photos. He didn’t blame Russia."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.