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Russia-Ukraine war: Israeli envoy condemns 'war crimes' as hundreds of dead civilians found in Bucha

Ambassador to Ukraine 'deeply shocked' by photos of corpses in streets, but Israel's foreign ministry says 'he didn't blame Russia'
Communal service workers collect a body of a man in the town of Bucha on 3 April 2022 (AFP)

Israel's ambassador to Ukraine Michael Brodsky has condemned the killing of civilians in Bucha, a suburb of Kyiv, as a “war crime”.

The Mayor of Bucha Anatoly Fedoruk said on Saturday that more than 280 people had been buried in mass graves in the town, while the BBC reported that journalists there had found at least 20 bodies lying in the streets.

“Deeply shocked by the photos from #Bucha. Killing of civilians is a war crime and cannot be justified,” Brodsky tweeted on Sunday.

A video released on Twitter by the Ukrainian defence ministry also showed bodies lying on the town's streets. Locals say Russian forces killed the civilians as they fled Bucha.

Russia's foreign ministry said on Monday that footage of the dead civilians in Bucha had been "ordered" by the United States as part of a plot to discredit Russia.

“Who are the masters of provocation? Of course the United States and Nato,” ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in an interview on state television.

“In this case, it seems to me that the fact that these statements [about Russia] were made in the first minutes after these materials appeared leaves no doubt as to who ‘ordered’ this story.”

Moscow has previously repeatedly denied Ukrainian claims that it has targeted civilians.

Israel was slow to condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February and when asked by Haaretz if the Israeli foreign ministry’s official position was that Russia had committed war crimes in Ukraine, a spokesperson said: “No. It’s a tweet by the ambassador regarding the photos. He didn’t blame Russia."

The Israeli newspaper said Brodsky’s comments were "different from those coming from higher echelon officials" in the country's government.

The newspaper also pointed out that, "Israeli leaders have declined to expressly comment on Russian strikes against Jewish targets in Ukraine, including attacks on a Hillel House, Ultra-Orthodox elementary school and the Drobitsky Yar Holocaust Memorial."

On Sunday, the French President Emmanuel Macron condemned what he called the "unbearable" images of murdered civilians in Bucha and said Russian authorities "must answer for these crimes".

"On the streets, hundreds of civilians cowardly murdered," Macron wrote on Twitter.

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