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Russia-Ukraine war: 2,500 Jews ask to emigrate to Israel

200,000 or so Ukrainians are eligible to emigrate to Israel and would receive automatic citizenship under the Law of Return
Members of the Ukrainian Jewish community pray in the only synagogue in Donetsk on 14 November 2014 (AFP)

About 2,500 Ukrainian Jews have asked to emigrate to Israel “immediately” following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Jewish Agency said.

The non-profit organisation set up a special hotline on Thursday - when Russia launched a full-scale operation in Ukraine - to help those interested in leaving the country for Israel as well as Israelis who have relatives in Ukraine.

The hotline is being operated out of Jerusalem in conjunction with the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ).

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So far more than 5,000 Ukrainian Jews have called the hotline, with about half of the callers expressing interest in moving to Israel immediately, Haaretz reported on Sunday.

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The Jewish Agency said the first group of Ukrainian immigrants to Israel crossed into Poland in the early hours of Sunday.

It posted a video on Twitter showing the immigrants en route from Lviv to the border with Poland, adding that they will be put up in Warsaw for the next few days before flying to Tel Aviv.

In anticipation of a spike in requests in the coming days, the agency has said it would open six document-processing stations at the Ukrainian border crossing points with Poland, Moldova, Romania, and Hungary to accommodate the demand.

An estimated 200,000 Ukrainians are eligible to emigrate to Israel and would receive automatic citizenship under the Law of Return.

In recent decades, the largest number of immigrants to Israel have come from Ukraine and Russia, according to Haaretz.

In 2021, a total of 3,100 Ukrainians emigrated to Israel.

About 80 percent of the immigrants from Ukraine landing in Israel in recent years have been coming via the IFCJ Fellowship, which pays for their flights and provides them with small stipends, the newspaper reported.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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