Around 250 new olim (immigrants - ed.) from Ukraine landed in Israel on Monday on a flight organized by International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ, or Keren L’Yedidut).
The flight was the sixth aliyah (immigration - ed.) flight of the The Fellowship since the beginning of the year. Fifteen of the olim are moving to Israel's Negev region, and five are moving to the Gaza periphery, a region that has dealt with renewed rocket attacks from Hamas-controlled Gaza.
Even central Israel has not been spared from such terror strikes. Earlier this week, a house in Mishmeret was completely destroyed by a rocket from Gaza that injured seven people including one infant and a toddler.
“The Fellowship’s first concern is to secure Jews from the threats and dangers of anti-Semitism, which is why we’re bringing them to Israel,” said President of The Fellowship Yael Eckstein. “At the same time, we leave it up to the olim to decide for themselves where to settle in Israel. It is inspiring to us all that the passion and Zionism is so intense among some of them that they insist on moving to the Gaza periphery and feel fully confident and excited to do so.”
New immigrants, Vladimir Levin and his wife, are following in the path of their son and settling in Kibbutz Tze'elim, located in the Eshkol Regional Council, which borders Gaza. Vladimir said that just like his son is not deterred from living in Tze'elim, he and his wife will move the kibbutz and refuse to be discouraged by the threat of terrorism.
Yelena Tackshenko and her family moved to Kibbutz Ein HaShlosha, also located in the Eshkol Regional Council but much closer to the Gaza Strip. The kibbutz is located near enough to the Gaza Strip that its residents have just 15 seconds to run for cover and shelter after hearing a Color Red alarm for an incoming rocket. Ein HaShlosha absorbed the largest number of rockets during Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012. The kibbutz received the second largest number of mortar shells during Operation Protective Edge in 2014 when the security situation was dire enough for even the youngest and oldest of residents to have been temporarily evacuated.
Despite the ongoing security threats in the region, 25-year-old Daniel Popov said, "I am not afraid of the situation. My friends have served in the army for four years and told me of their experiences. I know that the IDF is strong, and I am happy to be here!"
The olim come from a variety of localities in Ukraine including Odessa, Kiev and Zaporizhia, and range in age from as young as eight months to 82 years old. Twenty-two percent of the olim are settling in the coastal cities of Haifa and Netanya.
IFCJ has been helping Jews to make aliyah for over 20 years, and has invested more than $200 million in bringing approximately 750,000 olim to Israel. The Fellowship has also been a major contributor to the Jewish Agency and helped to establish the Nefesh B'Nefesh organization.