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Amid war, Israel sees threefold increase in immigration from Russia and Ukraine

12,175 immigrants arrived from Ukraine and 18,891 from Russia over five-month period

Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, center, in blue coat, welcomes new immigrants from Ukraine at Ben-Gurion airport in Israel, in undated photos distributed by the Immigration and Absorption Ministry on July 6, 2022. (Courtesy: Naga Malasa)
Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, center, in blue coat, welcomes new immigrants from Ukraine at Ben-Gurion airport in Israel, in undated photos distributed by the Immigration and Absorption Ministry on July 6, 2022. (Courtesy: Naga Malasa)

Immigration to Israel from Ukraine and Russia tripled in the months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, the Central Bureau of Statistics announced Wednesday.

Between February 24, when the invasion began, and July 31, 12,175 immigrants arrived from Ukraine and 18,891 arrived from Russia, a total of 31,066 over the five-month period. Approximately half the Ukrainian immigrants arrived between March and April, the bureau said.

This figure marks a 318 percent increase over the same period in 2019, when 2,651 immigrants arrived from Ukraine and 7,123 from Russia, the CBS noted, for a total of 9,774 (2019 was used due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the next two years).

Between February and July, 73.9% of Ukrainian immigrants between the ages of 18 and 60 were female and 26.1% were male. The CBS attributes this discrepancy to Ukrainian draft laws banning men in that age range from leaving the country’s borders during the war, with some exceptions.

Across all age ranges, Ukrainian female refugees comprised 63% of their country’s immigrants while their male counterparts made up 37%.

The figures do not include Ukrainian refugees — people fleeing to Israel due to the war, but who are not eligible for Israeli citizenship.

Israel has provided immigrants from Ukraine with additional benefits since early March, when the Immigration and Absorption Ministry recognized those fleeing Ukraine during the ongoing conflict as immigrants fleeing a war zone. This enables them to receive a one-time payment from the state of approximately NIS 6,000 per immigrant (approximately $1,800), NIS 11,000 ($3,350) for a couple and around NIS 15,000 ($4,580) for a family.

Jewish immigrants fleeing Ukraine arrive at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv, on March 15, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

This is in addition to the benefits provided by the ministry over the first six months to any immigrant that arrives in Israel, which amount to approximately NIS 19,000 ($5,800) for a single person and NIS 36,000 ($10,995) for a family.

A different government program provides additional rental assistance to immigrants from Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus. The plan provides NIS 2,300 ($714) in rental assistance per month for a year to individuals, NIS 2,900 ($880) for couples with up to two children and NIS 3,400 ($1,032) to families with three or more children.

As of late April, the most popular city among Russian and Ukrainian immigrants was Netanya. Large numbers of the region’s immigrants have also chosen to move to the country’s three largest cities, including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa.

At the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Israel anticipated up to 100,000 immigrants would arrive from Russia and Ukraine. In the first half of 2022, only some 35,000 moved to Israel, the CBS noted.

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