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The first aliyah flight this summer gets off to a spectacular start Tuesday with the expected arrival of 106 children among the 231 Jews from the United States and Canada, escorted by former kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.

Their plane is scheduled to touch down at Ben Gurion Airport at 7.am. Tuesday.

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The large number of children prompted officials from the Nefesh B’Nefesh aliyah organization to make sure lots of games, coloring books and even a story-telling hour will be available to make the flight more enjoyable for the younger generation.

This is the first time that NBN is working with three others groups – the Jewish Agency, the Ministry of Immigration and the Jewish National Fund (JNF).

Tuesday’s flight will include 41 families. The estimated 989 children who will make aliyah this year is a 20 percent increase of the previous year.

“There is a dramatic increase in the number of children making aliyah this summer, and this warms the heart and demonstrates that more and more American are realizing that Israel is great place to raise children,” said NBN deputy director Erez Halfon. “Children are the future of Israel.”

On hand to meet the newcomers will be several Knesset members, including Jewish Home MK Dov Lipman, who moved from the United States to Israel on a NBN flight in 2004.

A significant number of families will be living in the Galilee, in the north, and in the Negev, in cooperation with programs sponsored by the JNF. The government is investing billion of dollars in infrastructure and development to increase the Jewish population in both areas.

Family and friends around the world will be able to watch a live feed of the landing in Israel and the welcoming ceremony at www.nbn.org.il/live.

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