The children of the Alumim orphanage who fled from Zhytomyr, Ukraine, and were welcomed by Chabad of Cluj-Napoca in Romania finally arrived to Israel on El Al rescue flight.
A group of 90 orphans who fled Ukraine were greeted by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and other cabinet ministers at the Ben Gurion Airport on Sunday, March 7. The flight was part of a special operation of El Al, Israel’s largest airline, to rescue some 300 Jews from the war in Ukraine.
Bennett, accompanied by Immigration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, entered the aircraft and welcomed the children by saying, “I am Naftali, prime minister of Israel. Would you like to come into Israel?”
As the children were disembarking the plane, Bennett told the media that seeing children immigrating to Israel is “the most moving thing”. He later tweeted that he had told the children, “You are safe now, you have reached safe shores.”
The children fled Zhytomyr last week and with the help of the local Chabad groups in both Ukraine and Romania, they stayed in Cluj-Napoca before arriving to Israel on Sunday. Chabad is a Hasidic organisation that works to maintain Jewish life around the world.
The KKL-JNF Jewish National Fund is paying for the newcomers to stay and enjoy activities at a field school outside Jerusalem for a month.
According to Immigration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, in light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Israel is expecting tens of thousands of people to immigrate to the country. “We are trying to offer the best possible conditions to Jews and those eligible [to immigrate] under the Law of Return,” she said.
Sunday evening, Ronen Cohen, director of the Immigration and Absorption Ministry, told the media hat 400 refugees had landed in Israel in the previous six hours.
The Jewish Agency, which facilitates immigration to Israel, has received thousands of immigration requests from Ukraine since the start of the Russian offensive, which is way more than it normally receives over the course of an entire year. Israeli officials have predicted a similar jump in immigration from Russia.
Photo credit: The Times of Israel