Some 226 immigrants from Ukraine, among then dozens of families fleeing fighting in eastern Ukraine, landed in Israel.
The immigrants who arrived on Monday, the seventh day of Hanukkah, are the first in an expected group of over 400 Ukrainians who will arrive before the end of the year. A second flight is scheduled to arrive on Dec. 30.
The flights are sponsored by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews along with Israel’s Ministry of Immigration and Absorption and in cooperation with The Jewish Agency, the Global Ezra movement and Nativ.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was among those who welcomed the immigrants in a ceremony. He was joined by the minister of immigration and absorption, Sofa Landver; IFCJ’s founder and president, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein; the chairman of the Jewish Agency, Natan Sharansky; and the director of the global Ezra movement, Danny Elinson.
With Monday’s flight, 5,134 new immigrants from Ukraine have arrived in Israel in 2014, a 174 percent increase over the previous year, according to Landver.
Israel earlier this month implemented special procedures to speed up the immigration process for people with Jewish origins from Ukraine’s conflict zones.
IFCJ said in a statement that it is providing grants of $1,000 for the adults and $500 for children for the Ukrainian refugrees, who have suffered from the dire economic conditions in the country since the start of fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists.
The support is in addition to the absorption package and benefits that immigrants to Israel receives from the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption.