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Ukraine begins evacuating Uman, site of annual Hasidic pilgrimage

United Hatzalah representative predicts city will be targeted due to nearby weapons depots; 200 Israeli families estimated to reside there

Illustrative: People seen in the city of Uman, in central Ukraine, on January 26, 2022. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)
Illustrative: People seen in the city of Uman, in central Ukraine, on January 26, 2022. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90)

As fighting raged across Ukraine following Russia’s invasion, Ukrainian authorities ordered the evacuation of civilians from the city of Uman, an official at an Israeli first responder organization said Thursday.

“The Uman municipality has begun evacuating hundreds of families from the city, the danger is very great — there are many weapons depots in the area and the explosions are intense,” Shlomi Elisha, the deputy chief of the Ukraine division of United Hatzalah, told Army Radio.

Uman normally sees some 30,000 visitors, most of them from Israel, visit the gravesite of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov for the Rosh Hashanah holiday.

On Thursday, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid repeated his call for Israelis to leave Ukraine by land.

The Foreign Ministry estimates that there are around 8,000 Israeli citizens still in the country, including 200 families in Uman. A number of Arab Israeli students also returned to Ukraine this week in order to take exams at their university in Kharkiv.

Israel has called on citizens to evacuate through western border crossings. It has stationed representatives at border crossings into Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania in order to assist Israelis leaving Ukraine. Representatives are also being sent to a Moldova crossing.

“Our representatives are ready to receive you,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett added on Thursday afternoon.

Israel is currently operating under the assessment that there will be 5 million refugees from Ukraine amid the conflict, The Times of Israel has learned.

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