Israel Won't Act Against Illegal Ukrainian Residents Until 'Situation Is Clarified'

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked will extend the stay permits of tourists from Ukraine by two months

Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg
Ukrainian refugees arrive at the Medyka border crossing in Medyka, Poland, on Saturday.
Ukrainian refugees arrive at the Medyka border crossing in Medyka, Poland, on Saturday.Credit: AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu
Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg

Israel said Sunday it would not take action against Ukrainian nationals residing illegally in the country “pending clarification of the situation in their home country,” as the fighting with Russia entered its fourth day.

The Population and Immigration Authority said that the temporary policy of non-enforcement would apply to those who have not filed for political asylum as well as those who have.

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At the same time, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked announced that she would uniformly extend the stay permits of tourists from Ukraine by two months.

The changes come after Ukraine’s airspace was shut down last week when Russian forces invaded the country. In several cases last week, the custody tribunal decided to leave some Ukrainians scheduled for deportation in custody until they can be sent home. However, the Population Authority ordered the Prison Service to release 13 women and four men who were being held.

According to the authority, as of last week there were 7,200 Ukrainian nationals in Israel illegally, accounting for about a quarter of all foreigners in the country without permits. Between 2018-2021, 6,698 requests for political asylum were submitted to the authority by Ukrainians, most of which were rejected out of hand.

Ukraine also leads in the number of deportations from Israel, although the numbers have been falling. In 2018, 4,725 were deported, falling to 2,844 in 2019, 1,350 in 2020 and 927 last year. Ukrainians have accounted for 46 percent of all deportees from Israel in recent years.

The Hotline for Refugees and Migrants last week called on the authorities not to deport Ukrainians and to release those in custody.

“The State of Israel must properly examine asylum requests by Ukrainians already inside the country or who arrive at the border in line with the convention on refugees it has signed,” the Hotline said.

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