Israel Readies for Arrival of Thousands of Russian Immigrants After Draft Announcement

The Jewish Agency also plans to set up stations along Russia's borders to assist Russian refugees who are interested in immigrating to Israel

Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz
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A sign at the entrance to a Russian branch of the Jewish Agency for Israel, in Moscow, Russia, in July.
A sign at the entrance to a Russian branch of the Jewish Agency for Israel, in Moscow, Russia, in July.Credit: EVGENIA NOVOZHENINA/ REUTERS
Judy Maltz
Judy Maltz

As many as 6,000 immigrants are expected to arrive in Israel from Russia in each of the next six months, Jewish Agency Chairman Doron Almog told a special ministerial committee tasked with immigration and absorption matters on Sunday.

The expected surge in aliyah from Russia is a direct result of the compulsory draft announced there last month. But even prior to the conscription push, Russians have shown a far greater inclination to flee to Israel than their Ukrainian counterparts.

The government, meanwhile, on Sunday approved a special budget of 90 million shekels to finance the absorption of these immigrants.

While speaking at the committee meeting, Almog announced plans to set up a special “aliyah express” track for new Russian arrivals that will allow them to board flights to Israel before completing all the necessary paperwork, so long as they are able to provide basic proof that they are eligible to immigrate under the Law of Return. According to the law, any individual with at least one Jewish grandfather is eligible for aliyah and automatic Israeli citizenship.

A similar “aliyah express” track was created in March when a massive influx of immigrants from war-torn Ukraine was anticipated. Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, a total of 13,172 Ukrainians and 24,707 Russians have immigrated to Israel, according to Jewish Agency figures. Another 35,000 Russians and nearly 27,000 Ukrainians are currently residing in Israel – they are either waiting out the war as tourists or are in the process of immigrating, the figures show.

After the war broke out, the Jewish Agency set up stations near Ukraine’s borders with Poland, Moldova, Romania and Hungary to assist refugees interested in immigrating to Israel. Almog told the committee that similar stations are about to be set up on Russia's borders with Finland and Azerbaijan in order to help Russian refugees.

He said the Jewish Agency had allocated half a billion shekels for this aliyah wave from Ukraine and Russia. Of this sum, 200 million shekels had already been spent on bringing Ukrainian refugees to Israel, and another 300 million shekels would be required for the expected influx of Russians.

Almog said he expected the Israeli government to provide some of the required funding.

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