Israel prepares for Russian immigration surge amid mobilization

i24NEWS - AFP

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Jewish immigrants fleeing from war zones in Ukraine arrive at the Israeli immigration and absorption office, at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, on March 15, 2022.
Tomer Neuberg/Flash90Jewish immigrants fleeing from war zones in Ukraine arrive at the Israeli immigration and absorption office, at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, Israel, on March 15, 2022.

'We are doing everything in our power to help them reach Israel safely'

Israeli officials held an emergency meeting on Thursday to prepare for a possible surge of immigration from Russia after President Vladimir Putin announced on Wednesday that at least 300,000 people will be mobilized for Moscow’s war in Ukraine.

Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata reported a sharp increase in immigration applications from Russia and said she was closely monitoring the country's Jewish community.

“We are doing everything in our power to help them reach Israel safely, despite all the challenges in their path at the moment,” she told the Ynet news site.

"My ministry is preparing for a massive integration of immigrants," she added.

At Thursday's meeting, senior officials from the Aliyah and Integration Ministry, the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Treasury discussed the allocation of budgets, the organization of flights, as well as options for lodging.

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According to the Israeli officials, immigration to the country over the past 12 months hit a two-decade high, with influxes from Russia and war-torn Ukraine accounting for nearly three quarters of new arrivals.

In a statement issued days before the start of the Jewish New Year holiday, Rosh Hashana, Israel's immigration ministry said 60,000 Jews had moved to the country during the last Jewish calendar year, more than double the 28,000 recorded the previous year. 

Among those to have undertaken "Aliyah" — meaning "rising up" in Hebrew, referring to Jewish immigration to Israel — Russians accounted for 47 percent while 25 percent were people who came from Ukraine. 

After the two warring countries, the United States and France were the next highest sources of new arrivals since Rosh Hashana last year, at six and four percent respectively. 

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