(JTA) – A mass grave containing bones from hundreds of bodies was discovered during construction atop what used to be the ghetto of Brest, in present-day Belarus.
Human remains belonging to men, women and children as well as clothes, shoes and other personal items were uncovered last month on the construction site managed by the contractor Pribuzhsky Kwartia, according to a report Wednesday on the Virtual Brest news site.
Since then, the remains of dozens of additional bodies have been discovered every day, the report said.
Mayor Alexander Rogachuk said the bones belonged to “victims of ghettos,” meaning Jews imprisoned there by the Nazis during the Holocaust.
The Nazis killed three million civilians in Belarus, of whom 800,000 were Jewish.
Rogachuk told the Brest news site that he is in contact with local and international Jewish groups about arranging burial for the bones at local Jewish cemeteries.
Construction has been suspended on the immediate site of the grave but is going on around it, the Onliner news site reported Thursday.
Jewish religious laws require human remains not be disturbed.
Belarusian authorities and contractors have been criticized in the past – including as recently as 2017 in Gomel – for building atop Jewish cemeteries.
Yakov Goodman, a Jewish-American activist for the preservation of Jewish heritage sites in his native Belarus, has called out the government for allegedly destroying three synagogues – two in Minsk and one in Luban – and at least three Jewish cemeteries in addition to a former burial ground threatened in Gomel.