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Airlines report uptick in Israelis seeking to fly out

Come home before it’s too late, Lapid urges Israelis in Ukraine

FM says situation could deteriorate ‘quickly and dramatically’; eight extra flights between Israel and Ukraine to become available this week

Foreign minister Yair Lapid speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on January 24, 2022. (Oliver Fitoussi/Flash90)
Foreign minister Yair Lapid speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on January 24, 2022. (Oliver Fitoussi/Flash90)

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid addressed the growing tensions on the Russia-Ukraine border at a weekly meeting of his Yesh Atid faction on Monday.

“We will make sure that every Jew and every Israeli wishing to return home will get the help they require,” he told Yesh Atid legislators, adding that “if the situation deteriorates, it will happen quickly and dramatically.”

Echoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s statement from Saturday, Lapid urged Israeli citizens still in Ukraine to hurry and book flights to Israel.

“Don’t take an unnecessary risk,” he said, “come home.”

Israeli airlines said Monday afternoon they were seeing an uptick in the number of Israelis asking to fly out of Ukraine. According to Army Radio, over 1,000 people flying out of Ukraine were expected to land in Israel Monday, and there was high demand for plane seats; state broadcaster Kan put the number on flights from Kyiv to Israel Monday at 500.

There are thought to be 10,000 to 15,000 Israelis in the country.

Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli, the Labor party head, told her faction the ministry was prepared for any scenario that involves assisting Israeli citizens to leave Ukraine.

“The Transportation Ministry, together with the Civil Aviation Authority and Israeli airline companies, have prepared in the most effective and quick way possible,” she said.

Labor party leader Merav Michaeli speaks during a faction meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, on December 13, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

While noting that flights from Ukraine were not currently returning at full capacity, she said that eight additional flights to Israel will become available this week.

“There won’t be a single Israeli who wants to return home who is unable to do so,” Michaeli stated.

Addressing diplomatic efforts taken so far to prevent a Russian invasion of Ukraine, Lapid said “there is a global effort to prevent a war,” but noted it could fail.

“If a war breaks out it will be much harder to find flights, it will be much harder to leave Ukraine and return to Israel,” he said.

“[A war] can still be prevented. The global diplomatic effort might still be able to stop it. Israel will do everything in its power to help. In the meantime, I call on Israelis to return home this week,” he concluded.

In the latest diplomatic effort to avert war, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Ukraine on Monday and plans to continue on to Moscow, where he will try to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to back down.

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