The city of Arad, situated in the south of Israel, is preparing for some 10,000 Olim (new immigrants) who will arrive in the city in the coming future, as the Jewish state prepares for a massive wave of Aliyah following the global upheaval generated by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
More than a third of Arad’s 27,500 residents have immigrated to Israel in the last twenty 20, most of them from the countries in the former Soviet Union areas.
The Knesset’s Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Committee toured the city on Sunday, and Committee head David Bittan emphasized that preparations should be made for the expected wave of immigration, especially in 2022, by preparing and coordinating government ministries, local authorities and the Jewish Agency.
Immigration Minister Pnina Tamanu-Shatah stated that following the Coronavirus crisis, “we now have an opportunity to boost immigration, and this depends on our preparedness, the [Jewish] Agency and the authorities.”
Mayor Nissim Ben Hamo said that the “city views immigrants as a growth engine.”
Some 10,600 immigrants currently reside in Arad, about 36% of the population. Most of the immigrants in Arad came from the former USSR, as well as from the US, Argentina, the United Kingdom and France.
By the end of 2020, some 50,000 Jews will make Aliya (immigrate) to Israel, almost twice as much as in previous years, Jewish Agency officials told the Knesset last month.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent global crisis and rise in anti-Semitism have brought to a sharp rise in the interest in Aliyah.
In the North American and Western European countries, there was a significant increase in applications for immigration since the onset of the Coronavirus crisis compared to the same period the previous year.
Nefesh B’Nefesh, which facilitates Aliyah from North America and the UK, saw a 100% increase in North American interest in Aliyah in May in comparison to numbers from May 2019, the highest recorded month of Aliyah applications that Nefesh B’Nefesh has experienced in the past 18 years, since its founding