1,555 Ukrainians landed in Israel since Russia launched war

Diaspora minister urges end of ‘inhuman’ NIS 10,000 deposits for Ukraine refugees

Lapid, Shaked said advancing plan to grant year-long residency and work permits to some Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s invasion; 100-tons of Israeli humanitarian aid arrives in Poland

Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai attends the Jewish People's Lobby, at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on November 15, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai attends the Jewish People's Lobby, at the Knesset, in Jerusalem, on November 15, 2021. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Diaspora Minister Nachman Shai on Friday called on the government to stop requiring refugees fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to deposit NIS 10,000 ($3,050) as a condition of entry to Israel.

“Ukrainian refugees are arriving and will continue to arrive,” Shai wrote on Twitter. “We must immediately remove the illogical and inhuman demand for a NIS 10,000 deposit for refugees entering Israel from now on.”

The deposit is held as a guarantee that the Ukrainians will eventually leave Israel, as the country rarely grants refugee status to non-Jews, and instead allows them temporary entry as tourists.

The requirement has been criticized by Ukraine’s ambassador to Israel.

According to Hebrew media reports Friday, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid were advancing a new policy to grant year-long residency and work permits to Ukrainians escaping the war.

However, the two were reportedly at odds over how many refugees to allow into Israel, with Army Radio saying Lapid was pushing for 2,000 to be granted entry. It was not clear what number Shaked backed.

Refugees board a flight to Israel at Iasi Airport in Romania, on March 3, 2022. (The Times of Israel)

Shaked said Friday that 1,555 Ukrainians have arrived in Israel since Russia launched the invasion, 150 of whom are eligible for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return.

“We are preparing to absorb and immediately give citizenship to some 100,000 people who are eligible,” she was quoted as saying by the Kan public broadcaster.

She said the government is focusing on Jewish refugees and those entitled to Israeli citizenship, “but we are showing flexibility and a willingness to help Ukrainian citizens in general.”

On Thursday, Shaked predicted a huge number of Jewish refugees fleeing the war in Ukraine could immigrate to Israel.

“We think tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of immigrants will arrive from Russia, Ukraine, and former Soviet states,” she said during a conference with local council leaders at the Golan Regional Council.

Shaked later tweeted that she had ordered a three-month suspension on the requirement for a notarized police background check for immigrants from Russia and Ukraine to ease their immigration to Israel.

Also Friday, the Foreign Ministry announced a 100-ton shipment of humanitarian aid for Ukrainians has arrived in Poland after a three-day journey from Israel.

The aid includes 17 tons of medical equipment and medicine; water purification systems intended to supply 200,000 people; emergency water supply kits to supply 100,000 people; winter tents to house 3,000; 15,000 blankets; 3,000 sleeping bags; and 2,700 winter coats.

Israeli humanitarian aid shipment arrives in Poland, on March 4, 2022. (Shlomi Amsalem/GPO)

The trucks carrying the shipment were on their way toward the Ukrainian border and will continue to the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, where Israel is operating a makeshift embassy after evacuating its mission in Kyiv.

Ukraine has extended its appreciation to Israel for the gesture, though many of its leaders are insisting that what Kyiv needs most at the moment is military equipment — a request Israel has refused to grant as it seeks to maintain a working relationship with Russia, which controls the airspace in bordering Syria.

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