22,470 Israelis who had left the country returned to the Jewish state over the past two and a half years under a project implemented by the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, Army Radio reported Monday.

The ministry's initiative began in May 2010, and included special benefits for those returning to Israel.

The program is best known for igniting controversy in December 2011 when the ministry released a series of ads targeting Israelis living in the US.

The most controversial ad featured a young Israeli woman trying to commemorate Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel’s Wars but failing to adequately explain its significance to her partner, who many critics assumed to be an American Jew. The ad’s tagline read: “They will always remember Israel, but their partners might not always understand. Help them to come back.”

In response, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu canceled the campaign.

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