Over 28,000 new immigrants arrived in Israel in 2018, with more than two-thirds of them coming from countries of the former Soviet Union, according to figures published Tuesday by the Central Bureau of Statistics.
In addition to those who were new to the country, there were also 3,502 “returning citizens,” amounting to a total of 31,601 immigrants in 2018.
The numbers showed a continuing trend of increased annual immigration to the country, though immigration from France — which topped the numbers in 2015 — continued to decline.
Overall, there was a 6.6% increase in new immigrants to Israel from all over the world as compared to 2017, when 26,357 arrived. In 2016, the number stood at 25,977.
The highest figures came from Russia — 10,460 or 37.7% of the total arrivals — a jump of 46.6% compared to 2017, when 7,135 arrived.
The US was the second-largest source of new immigrants with 2,496, though that figure represented a 2.8% drop compared to 2017.
France was third with 2,415, down 23.5% compared to 2017 when 3,424 newcomers arrived.
According to the CBS, the large numbers of immigrants coming from Russia in recent years are likely a result of the financial crisis in the country which, it said, began to be more keenly felt after 2013.
In total, 2018 saw 18,786 immigrants reach Israel from former Soviet Union countries, accounting for 67.7% of the tally.
The 21,707 European immigrants made up 78.2% of the total and was up 9% compared to the year before. The US represented just 9% of fresh arrivals, and France 8.7%.
Most new immigrants moved to larger cities, with 11.1% setting up home in Tel Aviv, 9.5% in Jerusalem, 8.5% in Netanya and 7.9% in Haifa.
Since the Jewish state was established in 1948 some 3.3 million immigrants have arrived, the CBS said.
The Jewish Agency has said French immigration rose dramatically in 2014-2015 because of a mix of factors, including the community’s fear of anti-Semitic attacks, economic stagnation in France and its members’ attachment to Israel.
JTA contributed to this report.