El Al airplane
El Al airplane Photo: Moshe Shai / Flash90

Israel expects as many as 10,000 people could claim Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return and immigrate to the Jewish state from Ukraine in the coming weeks, as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues.

According to the Jewish Agency, some 5,000 Ukrainian nationals have already filed immigration requests, with half of the applicants seeking to move to Israel immediately.

Israel’s Immigration and Absorption Ministry is predicting that some 10,000 new immigrants will move to Israel from the Ukraine in the coming weeks. That is more than three times the number of immigrants to Israel from Ukraine in all of 2021.

There are an estimated 43,000 Jews living in Ukraine, though under Israel’s Law of Return non-Jews with family ties to Jews – including non-Jewish children, grandchildren and spouses of Jews – can be eligible to gain Israeli citizenship. There believed to as many as 200,000 Ukrainians potentially eligible to immigrate under the current law, nearly four-fifths of them not members of the Jewish community.

Ukraine is home to a Jewish community of around 43,000. But approximately 200,000 Ukrainians are eligible for immigration under Israel’s Law of Return, which extends the right to citizenship to anyone with one Jewish grandparent.

On Sunday, the World Zionist Organization announced it will help absorb incoming immigrants from Ukraine by providing portable housing units in rural communities across Israel.