Dozens of Ukrainian families fleeing the east of the country touched down in Israel this week on an historic aliyah flight.
The initiative has been organised by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews amid as the conflict in the region continues to rage and the humanitarian crisis worsens.
Tuesday’s flight carrying a total of 226 new immigrants from Ukraine was greeted at Ben Gurion by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky, and will be followed by a second bringing similar numbers next week.
“The Fellowship will continue to ensure that any Jew who is in danger or who faces hardship will receive shelter and a home,” said IFCJ founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, who was also part of the welcoming party. “The first Fellowship flight will open a new chapter in the contribution of the IFCJ to immigration and absorption in Israel.”
A report from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights spoke of an “extremely dire” situation in which social and medical services had been disrupted and many of the most vulnerable people were “on the brink of survival”.
Under the fellowship’s Aliyah programme, grants of $1,000 per adult and $500 per child will be made in addition to the benefits always given to new immigrants. This week’s flight was organised in conjunction with the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption, the Jewish Agency, the global Ezra movement and Nativ.
Immigration minister Sofa Landver said this year had seen 174 percent increase in Aliyah from Ukraine. “We shall continue to work night and day in order to enable every Jew to take the step and come home,” she added.
The Fellowship, supported by Christian and Jewish supporters of Israel worldwide, has transferred around one billion shekels since its creation in 1983 to take Jews to Israel from the former CIS countries, Ethiopia, India and Middle Eastern countries. But it has now stepped up its Aliyah efforts in light of the crisis in Ukraine and a rise in anti-Semitism around the world.