Photo Credit: Tomer Neuberg / Flash 90
Ukrainian refugees arrive at Ben Gurion International Airport on Feb. 20, 2022

Israel is about to significantly expand its acceptance of Ukrainian refugees, regardless of their Jewish status.

The decision was announced Sunday by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in opening remarks to the weekly cabinet meeting.


“Israel is part of the world, and the world is going through difficult and tumultuous times,” Bennett said. “We are managing this complex crisis with sensitivity, responsibility and are making an effort to offer assistance however we can.

“We are currently preparing to absorb olim [immigrants] and those included under the Law of Return with the entire package that the state needs to provide to olim: an absorption basket, housing assistance, education and especially a big hug,” he said.

“At the same time, we – as a people and a society – will offer humanitarian assistance to Ukrainian nationals who are here temporarily, for a few weeks or months, until the situation there calms down,” Bennett added. “I see that there are many families who will be hosting in the coming period, and this is very important.”

Refugees with at least one relative in Israel will be accepted openly; those without a relative in the Jewish State will be accepted in accordance with a separate quota.

According to a report by The Jerusalem Post, Israel is preparing to absorb 100,000 Ukrainians under the Law of Return, which mandates acceptance of any immigrant with a minimum of one Jewish grandparent. The definition is known colloquially as “Hitler’s definition” of a Jew, and is not in compliance with that set forth in the Torah.

Andriy Yermak, chief of staff to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, tweeted the change in Israel’s refugee policy came after talks between Kiev and Jerusalem, including his own talks with National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata.

“Also, Israel promises to allow the relatives of those Ukrainians who are already in the country to enter without hindrance,” Yermak said in a separate tweet. He also praised Israeli efforts to mediate between Ukraine and Russia.

“Israel has taken on the difficult but noble mission of mediating the search for peace and ending Russia’s aggression against Ukraine,” Yermak said in a Facebook post.

Bennett also “officially” announced that Israel is establishing a field hospital for injured Ukrainians that will operate “there, on the ground. This is important and I am pleased that we – the Health Ministry and the Foreign Ministry, with the assistance of the Finance Ministry – are leading it,” he said.

Along with that, Bennett noted that the government is investing NIS 330 million in bomb shelters for Ashkelon. The southern Mediterranean coastal city is one of the first targets to be hit when Gaza terrorists are firing rockets at Israel.

“In our world, the home front is also a battlefield, unfortunately, and we are determined to protect our people, at any price,” he said.

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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, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.