Government ministries, the IDF, the Jewish Agency and other bodies are preparing to receive a wave of immigration from Ukraine in light of the continuing threat of a Russian invasion of the country.
The Israel Hayom newspaper has learned that preparations were held last week, and a detailed emergency plan was formulated in case thousands of Jews and those entitled to the Law of Return decide to flee to Israel in the event of war.
The move is being led by Immigrant Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata (Blue and White), who also chaired the emergency hearings. The meetings were also attended by Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai, Director General of the Housing Ministry Aviad Friedman, IDF Operations Division Chief Aharon Haliva, representatives of the Hotels Association, Home Front Command representatives, the Population Authority, the Airports Authority and other bodies. The Defense and Interior Ministers, Benny Gantz and Ayelet Shaked, are also participating in the planning, as is the National Security Headquarters at the Prime Minister's Office.
At this stage, Israel is not taking action to encourage immigration. However, the deployment is in case a large-scale operation is needed for the rapid evacuation and absorption of thousands of people.
"If 5,000 people come to Israel in one week, this is an event that needs to be prepared for. These are much larger numbers than the Immigrant Absorption and other bodies are used to. We must prepare to deal with ther people in all aspects," a source involved told Israel Hayom.
The Immigrant Absorption Ministry last week issued calls for hotels to receive guests, without specifying the purpose. In addition, the emerging plan includes preparations at Ben Gurion Airport for the absorption of immigrants, including the delivery of identity cards, their stay at absorption centers or hotels and hostels, and escorts at the beginning of their stay in Israel, as is customary.
Sources involved in the details of the plan praised Tamano-Shata's leadership, and said that her approach was impressive and detailed. Today, 87 immigrants from Ukraine are expected to arrive. Temanu-Shata and acting Jewish Agency chairman Yaakov Hagoel consider them the "first immigrants" from the possible big wave - and are expected to welcome them at Ben Gurion Airport.
Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry continues to cals on Israeli citizens in Ukraine to leave the country immediately. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid spoke on Friday with Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Dr. Nicu Popescu, and discussed with him the possibility that his country would help rescue Israelis and Jews from Ukraine. "Action must be taken so that Israelis understand that a late rescue can be complicated and dangerous," Lapid said.
At the same time, to help Israelis, the Foreign Ministry decided to keep Ambassador Michael Brodsky and the embassy staff in Kyiv for the time being and today to open the consular department at the embassy, to provide travel documents to citizens in need. The Foreign Ministry has decided that at this point the embassy in Kyiv will continue to operate, but the decision may change.