Israel 'preparing to evacuate thousands of Jews' from Ukraine amid looming threat of Russian invasion: reports

Israel 'preparing to evacuate thousands of Jews' from Ukraine amid looming threat of Russian invasion: reports
Israeli officials have discussed the possibility of an emergency evacuation of up to 75,000 Ukrainian Jews in the event of a Russian invasion of the former Soviet state.
2 min read
25 January, 2022
Israel is reportedly updating plans it devised during the Soviet era to emergency airlift Jews from eastern Europe [source: Getty]

Israel has started preparing for a potential influx of Ukrainian Jews amid the looming threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to local media Monday. 

A group of Israeli leaders, including representatives from the Prime Minister’s Office, met on Sunday to discuss how to respond to an exodus of up to 75,000 Jews out of Ukraine, reported Haaretz

The briefing occurred as tensions continued to escalate between the West and Moscow, with European nations and the US accusing Russia of preparing to invade Ukraine given the mass build-up of troops near the country's borders.  

"The meeting included representatives from the National Security Council, the Prime Minister's Office, the Foreign, Defence, Transport and Diaspora Affairs ministries, as well as the Jewish Agency and Nativ, the secretive government organisation that maintains connections between Israel and Jews in countries of the former Soviet Union," Haaretz said. 

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Currently, there is no significant rise in the number of Ukrainian Jews requesting to come to Israel, the newspaper reported. 

However, it said that in the event of an invasion and mass exodus, thousands of Jews from eastern regions such as Odessa, Kharkiv and Dnipropetrovsk could apply for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return.

In 2014, Israel evacuated hundreds of Jews from Donbas, a region southeast of Ukraine, which Russian separatists currently control. 

Russia has launched a series of military exercises near Ukraine’s borders, stoking fears in the West that it seeks to invade the former Soviet state. 

Moscow has denied it has any plans for invasion and has accused the West of increasing tension with deployments and support for Ukraine.

The Israeli government and Jewish groups have reportedly been in contact with the governments of Russia and Ukraine to ensure the safety of the Jewish communities. 

Millions of Palestinians were displaced from their homes during the creation of Israel and subsequent wars with Arab states and have been unable to return.