Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90
Jewish children fleeing the war in Ukraine arrived in Israel on a rescue flight sponsored by the IFCJ, March 6, 2022.

The head of the Eurasia Division at Israel’s Foreign Ministry who serves as the Acting Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine, Simona Halperin, told Reshet Bet radio Friday: “I am happy to say that only an estimated 1,500 Israelis remain in Ukraine.” She added that “the situation at the border crossings is changing day by day. Two days ago, there was a 7.5 km-long traffic jam on the way to the border, and now at the border thousands of people are standing and waiting to cross through the pedestrian passage, with temperatures below zero.”

Halperin reported that “some Israelis write to us that they need help to get out of their city because leaving is dangerous and there are battles there. This is exactly the scenario that the Foreign Ministry feared,” she noted, obviously unable to hold back the “we told you so.”


The UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi has praised the European countries for welcoming the people fleeing the war in Ukraine, whose numbers now surpass two million. The UNHCR estimated this week that by July, EU member states will receive some four million refugees from Ukraine. It is expected that about 40% of them will reach Poland, a little less than half a million the rest of the border countries and the rest to other countries.

Last week, the EU decided––in an unprecedented move––to allow refugees from Ukraine to stay in any of the 27 EU countries for up to three years without having to apply for asylum. This decision will provide Ukrainians who have been forced to leave their homes with new housing as well as access to health services, the education system, and the labor market.

Grandi reported that UNHCR is supporting the coordination of the humanitarian response, as “scores of experts and tens of millions of dollars of aid” have been deployed to support governments with providing material and cash assistance, while protection teams have been reinforced to address the needs of women and children.

Osnat Lubrani, the Israeli UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine said programs will be expanded, while new operations will be established wherever required across the country. She stressed that warring parties must ensure unimpeded access to people in need.

“To ensure we can expand our humanitarian operations we must have safe and unimpeded access to all areas affected by conflict – and remind all parties of their responsibilities under international humanitarian law. As anywhere in the world, the work of UN teams and our humanitarian partners is always neutral, impartial, and independent: we are here to help the most vulnerable civilians, whoever and wherever they are,” Lubrani said.

Ukrainian refugees outside an emergency shelter in Kishinev, Moldova, March 5, 2022. / Nati Shohat/Flash90

UNHCR praised Hungary’s decision to keep its borders open to refugees from Ukraine, which constituted a complete reversal of its policy of the past decade when faced with the mass immigration of Syrian refugees. The head of UNHCR’s central European representative office Stephanie Woldenberg said this week, after visiting an aid center in Beregsurány, northeastern Hungary, in the company of Hungarian state secretary Miklós Soltész, that it was “fantastic” that the community of the border village comprising a thousand people was able to look after three to four thousand refugees daily.

Soltész, who heads the national humanitarian coordination council, said his government plans to ask the UNHCR High Commissioner’s Office to assist aid organizations and affected local governments in Hungary, as Some 200,000 refugees have already arrived there from Ukraine and the Hungarian government has already provided 3 billion forints (€8 million) to six charities involved in looking after the refugees.”

Vice President Kamala Harris and Romania’s president Klaus Iohannis are meeting Friday to discuss concerns about the wave of Ukrainian refugees flooding Romania since the invasion. On Thursday, Harris met in Warsaw with Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki to discuss very similar issues. Poland has already let in some 1.5 million Ukrainians since the start of the Russian invasion.

Israeli Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked was the brunt of harsh criticism for her insistence on limiting to 5,000 the number of non-Jewish shelter seekers. The Channel 12 satirical show Eretz Ne’hederet (Wonderful Country) ran a sketch this week portraying Shaked as a British border official preventing Jewish refugees from entering Mandatory Palestine during World War II.

Channel 13 reporter Yossi Eli posted a video showing a Polish soldier giving a lollipop to a Ukrainian toddler and tweeted: Ayelet Shaked, look, this is how Polish soldiers and border officials receive Ukrainian refugees and their children at the border crossing. With a smile, trying to warm up to the children who have lost their home. They don’t attack them! There, too, is a serious fear of their settling permanently! Population Authority! You shame us!”

Cheap sloganism? You bet. But effective. Minister Shaked announced in response to all the harsh criticism by Israelis who won’t have to suffer the consequences of this generosity because those refugees can’t afford to rent in their neighborhoods, that the refugees who arrive at Ben Gurion Airport would be lodged in hotels.

Around 3,000 miles from their homes. But wait, in a month, when their temporary stay permits expire, Israeli leftists will attack Shaked for demanding that they live up to their signed commitments and return to Europe. She can’t catch a break.


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