Syria is suffering ‘a small holocaust’, says Israeli chief rabbi

'Millions of refugees are homeless, hundreds of thousands of others are starved, under siege, they are human beings who are suffering a small holocaust' 

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The Independent Online

A chief rabbi in Israel has said a "small holocaust" is taking place in war-torn Syria

Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel and Head of the Supreme Rabbinical Court Yitzhak Yosef implored the Jewish people to take action as Syria's almost six-year civil war continues. 

Speaking at an inter-religious meeting with Palestinian Muslim clerics hosted by President Reuven Rivlin on Thursday, Rabbi Yosef said: "Every day not far from here, as we sit here, men, women and children are murdered in Syria, and particularly in Aleppo. 

“Millions of refugees are homeless, hundreds of thousands of others are starved, under siege [...] they are human beings who are suffering a small holocaust."

He said Jews who had endured the Holocaust and the murder of six million people as “the world looked on and remained silent,” must not do so now, the Times of Israel reports. 

“As Jews we must not stay silent. The call must be heard from here: A genocide will not be allowed to go by quietly - not in Syria and not anywhere else, and not against any people.”

Aleppo, Syria’s most populous city before the start of the civil war, has been devastated by four years of bombing by both sides.

Both the Assad regime and its Russian backers are accused of killing civilians with air strikes, while rebels have carried out bomb and rocket attacks on residents living in government districts.

Fierce fighting continues between regime troops and a coalition of Islamist militias led by the former al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, who are battling to maintain a corridor between opposition areas and the rest of the Aleppo province after rebels broke the siege of the city earlier this month.

Last week, the Mayor of Aleppo also described the bombardments on Aleppo as a "Holocaust". 

Brita Haj Hassan told Sky News: "We consider the international community as partners in these war crimes.

"There is a holocaust going on in Aleppo right now. Aleppo is burning and the international community is just watching and doing nothing."

On Monday, Russia announced an eight-hour "humanitarian" ceasefire in Aleppo later this week, as the EU warned that the Syrian regime's Moscow-backed assault on the city could amount to war crimes.

The United Nations and European Union welcomed the announcement, but said Thursday's planned pause in fighting needed to be longer to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 50 civilians, including 18 children, were killed in air strikes on the eastern part of the city in the 24 hours before the Russian announcement. 

Additional reporting by agencies