Israel will allow 25,000 Ukrainians who are not eligible for immigration to stay in the country as refugees amid Russia’s invasion of their nation, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked announced Tuesday.
The minister said 20,000 of those had been in Israel before the outbreak of hostilities, and an additional 5,000 would be accepted from the time the invasion began.
This in addition to tens of thousands it expects to arrive in the country as part of Jewish immigration in the wake of the war, Shaked said.
Shaked announced the new policy for absorbing non-Jewish Ukrainian refugees as the war was on its 13th day, with no end in sight.
“The sights of war in Ukraine and the suffering experienced by its citizens rattle the soul and don’t allow us to remain indifferent,” she said in a press conference held at the Knesset on Tuesday evening.
She said Israel will “temporarily host” 20,000 Ukrainian citizens who were already in the country before the war broke out, mostly illegally, and won’t take action to deport them. An additional immigration quota for 5,000 Ukrainian citizens seeking refuge in Israel after the war broke out was approved, the minister said.
According to Ynet, some 3,400 non-Jewish Ukrainians have arrived in Israel since Russian troops invaded the country on February 24, 150 of whom were not allowed entry.
Shaked said that under the new rules, any Ukrainian citizen entering Israel will receive a temporary permit to remain for 3 months. She added that if the situation in Ukraine does not improve, they will be allowed to apply for local work.
She further said the ministry had decided to cancel the controversial requirement for refugees to deposit NIS 10,000 ($3,000) upon entering the country, to ensure their eventual departure.
Instead, refugees arriving in Israel as part of the humanitarian quota will only be asked to sign a document committing to leaving the country once the situation in Ukraine allows it.
Israeli citizens will be able to submit a request to host Ukrainian refugees, Shaked said, with a limit of one family per applicant. Such requests will receive higher priority, she noted.
Every Ukrainian refugee seeking to travel to Israel will need to submit an online application on the website of the Foreign Ministry and present it while boarding the plane, Shaked said, adding that the process for submitting an application is relatively simple and quick.
Overall, Israel will host about 25,000 non-Jewish Ukrainian refugees until the war in Ukraine ends, she said, in addition to about 100,000 expected Jewish arrivals from Ukraine and Russia (Israel apparently expects arrivals from the latter due the steep increase in repression as Moscow wages its war).
Shaked said this was an incredibly high number for a country that does not border Ukraine, particularly when compared to Israel’s small size.
“Israeli citizens can be proud” of the efforts taken to provide humanitarian assistance to the Ukrainian people, she said.
Meanwhile, the Education Ministry said it was preparing to absorb as many as 2,000 Ukrainian schoolchildren into the education system over the coming days.
Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton has ordered plans drawn up for integrating the students and their parents into the educational system and community, the ministry said in a statement.
The UN on Sunday reported over 1.5 million Ukrainian refugees displaced since the invasion began on February 24, calling it Europe’s fastest-growing refugee crisis since World War II.