Photo Credit: Wikimedia / Tohaomg
Embassy of Israel in Kiev, Ukraine on May 9, 2016, shuttered in Feb. 2022

Israel is preparing to evacuate the families of its diplomatic staff and emissaries stationed in Ukraine as the prospect of war with Russia looms closer — but embassy diplomats and workers themselves will stay.

The Foreign Ministry stepped up Friday’s travel warning in an update on Saturday night, saying that following a situational assessment which took place earlier in the day, the Foreign Ministry decided to elevate its travel warning and call on Israeli citizens to leave the country.

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The Foreign Ministry said earlier in the day that it had “decided to evacuate from the country the family members of diplomats and Israeli workers at the Embassy.”

“Foreign Minister [Yair] Lapid ordered a transition to work on an emergency footing. The Foreign Ministry has established a dedicated management team for this crisis headed by Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz, who reports to the Foreign Minister. The Israeli Embassy in Kiev, led by Ambassador Michael Brodsky, continues to operate with its full team of diplomatic staff remaining in the country.

“The Consular Division at the Foreign Ministry will reinforce the Embassy with additional staff in order to manage emergency consular matters,” the ministry told reporters.

The official travel warning issued by the ministry said: “On account of continued tensions and the fear of escalation, the Foreign Ministry is calling on Israeli citizens presently in Ukraine to leave the country as soon as possible.

“The Foreign Ministry is also calling on Israeli citizens planning on traveling to Ukraine in the near future to cancel their travel plans at this time.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Israeli Embassy in Ukraine call on Israeli citizens presently in the country to register through the online survey so that they can receive updated information in real time.”

By Friday night, some 4,000 Israelis had already registered on the site – but according to Israel’s Channel 13 news outlet, there may be up to 15,000 Israelis in the country.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz ordered the IDF on Saturday to be ready to assist in the evacuation of Israelis from the country if war breaks out.

There are nearly 200,000 Jews in Ukraine; the foreign ministry said it expects many to request permission to immigrate to Israel.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.