Israeli government's "Operation Israeli Guarantee" for the rescue of Ukrainian Jewry, has been launched with the arrival in Israel of about 400 refugees entitled to make aliyah according to the Law of Return.
Of the 400 refugees, 100 of them are homeless children from Ukraine. They were brought as part of a joint operation by the Aliyah and Integration Ministry, the Jewish Agency and the Fellowship IFCJ - and with donations from the Jewish Federations of North America, Keren Hayesod and donors from around the world.
Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, acting chairman of the Jewish Agency Yaakov Hagoel, President of the Fellowship Yael Eckstein and Keren Hayesod World Chairman Sam Grundwerg welcomed the immigrants when they got off the airplane.
Tamano-Shata said: "The fate of the Jews of Israel and the Jews of the Diaspora is intertwined, and today we embarked on one of the largest operations in the history of the State of Israel to rescue Ukrainian Jews fleeing the fighting in this country.”
Since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, 467 eligible immigrants have arrived in Israel, of which about 140 arrived last weekend. Representatives of the Aliyah and Integration Ministry, Nativ and the Jewish Agency met the new olim on the ground when they got off the plane and accompanied them in their absorption in Israel.
The Aliyah and Integration Ministry gave the operation the name: "Israeli Guarantee" - as its name implies, guarantees to each other. The ministry, headed by Tamano-Shata, is preparing for the emergency reception of thousands of those entitled to return to Israel from Ukraine.
The ministry officials will refer the olim to immediate and temporary housing solutions in hotels, prepared in advance as part of the emergency operation.
In the near future, thousands of those entitled to make aliyah according to the Law of Return plan to immigrate to Israel. "The ministry is prepared to receive the eligible and take care of their optimal absorption process,” a press release by the ministry stated.
Tamano-Shata said on Sunday that "The sweet children’s excitement at the airport was contagious. I was so happy to receive them with a welcoming big hug. The children, who have no parents or home, will receive the best resources available to the Israeli government while allocating a dedicated budget for their best absorption - so they can go through this difficult period.”
Hagoel said at the airport: "I thank the Jewish communities, including the Jewish Federations of North America, Keren Hayesod, donors and friends who love Israel from around the world, who have joined an unprecedented aid operation for the Jews of Ukraine."
Eckstein: "Operation ‘Israeli Guarantee’ is a life-saving, valuable and extremely important activity. I am proud that we at the Fellowship have the opportunity to be a contributing and a significant part in its implementation in such challenging days. This operation symbolizes the essence of Zionism and mutual guarantee. I thank our many partners in the Aliyah and Integration Ministry, headed by Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, the Jewish Agency, Nativ, the Foreign Ministry, Chabad, JDC and the many supporters who joined in this effort. The fund will assist in the optimal absorption of immigrants in Israel."
Grundwerg said: "Our people and members of Jewish organizations and bodies have been working in recent weeks around the world to help the citizens of Ukraine, today we see one of the most complex and exciting projects to reach its peak. The State of Israel and the people of Israel stand by the refugees of the war and we, as its representatives, will continue our efforts to save human lives."
Becky Caspi, senior vice president of the Jewish Federations, said: "It is so exciting to be here at the airport and to represent the Jewish federations of North America. I am excited to see the first Ukrainian refugee planes arriving in Israel and returning home to Israel. Our mission is to look out for the safety of Jews around the world."
A planeload of 80 immigrants to Israel from Ukraine became the first plane permitted to take off from Moldova in more than a week on Sunday. The plane was Ukrainian and received special permission to fly.
The immigrants applauded after landing safely in the Jewish state and some on the plane sang "Hevenu shalom aleichem."
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.