Over 200 North American immigrants, undeterred by the continuing rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, winged their way into Israel on Tuesday to begin a new life.
A special flight chartered by the Nefesh B’Nefesh organization landed at Ben Gurion Airport with 228 immigrants from the US and Canada, 100 of whom are children.
Immigrant and Absorption Minister Sofa Landver and Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky greeted the new arrivals after they touched down in Israel.
“The decision to immigrate to Israel is not a simple one, especially in the current situation it is a courageous and important one,” Landver acknowledged. “The continuing massive immigration of families and children, especially in these times of crisis, strengthens the resolve of our nation and serves as a proof that Israel is the one and only home of the Jewish nation.”
“That so many Jews from the West are joining us of their own free will is the best answer to those who still try to destroy us,” Sharansky said. “This flight is yet another step in the ingathering of the exiles, and we look forward to welcoming these new Israelis home.”
The 29 families and 54 singles arrived despite the continuing conflict in Gaza, which has seen over 2,000 rockets fired at Israel’s towns and cities in the past two weeks.
Some are planning to live in the country’s south or north as part of a project to settle people in the Negev and Galilee regions. During the recent fighting southern Israel has borne the brunt of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. The IDF launched Operation Protective Edge on July 8 in an effort to stem the rocket attacks; during the ensuing fighting Hamas launched barrages that reached Tel Aviv, the center of the country, and even as far north as Haifa. The Gaza death toll stands at over 600 according to Palestinian sources, and 28 Israeli soldiers have been killed.
Leaving nothing to chance, the Immigrant Absorption Ministry prepared information leaflets for each of the travelers, explaining security measures to be taken if a rocket siren goes off. In addition, the Home Front Command also provided information, in English, explaining how to talk to children about the current security situation.
The immigration to Israel, called aliya in Hebrew, was coordinated with the Immigrant Absorption Ministry, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemet L’Yisrael and JNF-USA.
Earlier this month, 64 new immigrants also arrived from the US to live in Israel.
Founded in 2002, the Nefesh B’Nefesh organization has worked with the Israeli government to bring some 40,000 North American immigrants to Israel.