Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90
Ukrainians fleeing the Russian invasion seek shelter in Korczowa, Poland, March 7, 2022.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) announced on Tuesday that Israel will allocate a temporary quota of 5,000 refugees from the war in Ukraine. In addition, Shaked said she would temporarily allow the stay of about 20,000 Ukrainians already in Israel, “most of them illegally,” and many who have been in the country since well before the war. At the same time, Israel canceled the requirement of depositing guarantees to the tune of tens of thousands of shekels at Ben Gurion Airport.

It is estimated that close to 2,500 have refugees have managed to enter Israel since the outbreak of the war almost two weeks ago. Many of them were detained at Ben Gurion Airport and had to wait for long hours until their loved ones in Israel managed to raise tens of thousands of shekels to be deposited as a guarantee for their departure in a month, or when things calm down in their home country. It is also believed that some non-Jewish refugees have given up on coming to Israel because they knew that their relatives could not afford to bail them.

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It is expected that within a few days the quota of refugees that Israel is willing to let in will be used up. This means that family members who want to bring their non-Jewish loved ones from Ukraine will not be able to do so even if they can afford the deposit.

Israel allows Ukrainian refugees to enter its territory, but it does not recognize them as asylum seekers or refugees, which means they will not be able to work while in the country. Many of them will inevitably become an economic burden on their families in Israel, which have already raised the bail money on their behalf.

Ynet interviewed immigration attorney Yadin Eilam called Shaked’s new policy, which was reached together with Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, “an evil under an angelic guise.” According to Eilam, “they presented it as a positive thing because of the cancellation of the guarantee deposits, but it is a sham. To date, the guarantees have allowed the entry of second-degree relatives or friends. What will happen now is that those people will simply not be allowed to enter. There are 2,500 Ukrainians left who can enter. They will be received according to their degree of kinship (to Israeli citizens), which means that second-degree relatives and then friends will not have the opportunity to enter. Their situation would have been better had they been able to enter in exchange for the guarantee money. And when the quota is completed, even first-kin people will not be allowed to enter.”

“I’m afraid that by Saturday night, when the policy goes into effect, the quota will be full and no one will be admitted,” Eilam said.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.