Immigrants arriving at Ben Gurion
Immigrants from North America arriving at Ben-Gurion Airport on a Nefesh B'Nefesh charter flight. Photo by Archive
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Israeli officials say more than 19,000 Jewish immigrants came to Israel in 2010, a 16 percent increase over last year.

The Jewish Agency handles immigration to Israel. It said in a statement Tuesday that about 7,700 immigrants came from the former Soviet Union. About half that many came from North America. Others came from France, Ethiopia and elsewhere.

Their average age was 29. The oldest was 99.

Israel grants citizenship to any Jew who applies under the law of return. The law's intention was to welcome Jews facing persecution abroad, though Jews now immigrate for many different reasons.

2010 was the second year of increase after a long decline since immigration from the former Soviet Union peaked in the 1990s.