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Israeli girl and mom, fleeing Ukraine, held at airport, told they could be sent back

Father, an Israeli citizen, reportedly told to pay large security deposit, despite measure being halted; after TV report, Shaked orders pair be immediately let in, without payment

The Israeli passport of a girl who, along with her mother, were held at Ben Gurion Airport after fleeing Ukraine and told they could be sent back, March 10, 2022. (Channel 12 Screenshot)
The Israeli passport of a girl who, along with her mother, were held at Ben Gurion Airport after fleeing Ukraine and told they could be sent back, March 10, 2022. (Channel 12 Screenshot)

A mother and daughter who fled the fighting in Ukraine were detained at Ben Gurion Airport and ordered to pay a stipend, despite the fact that the daughter is an Israeli citizen, Channel 12 news reported on Thursday.

According to Channel 12, the pair left their Ukraine home — which was said to have been destroyed in a Russian bombardment — 10 days ago and set out for Israel. The daughter’s father, a divorced Israeli citizen living in Israel, asked the authorities to allow them to stay in the country until the war ends.

The network reported, however, that the pair were held up in the airport and authorities demanded that the father pay a NIS 50,000 ($15,200) security deposit in order to allow them entry.

When the father said that he was not able to pay such an amount, the deposit was reduced to NIS 30,000 ($9,170), with officials threatening that if it was not paid by midnight on Thursday, the mother and daughter would be deported back to Ukraine.

After the TV report was broadcast, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked ordered that the two be allowed into Israel immediately.

The father had contacted UNICEF’s Israel offices, and officials there were said to be in contact with authorities.

When Channel 12 initially contacted the Interior Ministry on the issue, officials said that the father had tried to bring the mother to Israel in the past and she had not wanted to immigrate.

Screenshot from Channel 12 footage, broadcast on March 10, 2022, of refugees from the war in Ukraine waiting for hours in crowded conditions at Ben Gurion Airport. (Channel 12/screenshot)

Interior Minister Shaked announced earlier this week that an earlier measure demanding a security deposit from Ukrainian refugees would be immediately halted, following an outcry by organizations and officials. It was therefore not clear why immigration authorities had demanded a deposit from this family.

Following the report, Shaked ordered the mother and daughter to be allowed into the country immediately without any need for a deposit. Shaked also ordered authorities to transfer to a hotel any Ukrainian refugees who were at the airport awaiting the processing of their entry requests.

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