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Russia-Ukraine War: First Israel-bound immigrants cross from Ukraine into Poland

After a harrowing journey that took nearly an entire day, a small group of immigrants bound for Israel from Ukraine crossed the border into Poland on Saturday.

According to the Jewish Agency, which arranged for their departure, the immigrants will be put up in Warsaw for the next few days before flying to Israel.

It was the first organized group of immigrants headed for Israel to leave Ukraine since the Russian invasion two days earlier.

The immigrants, who came from different localities across Ukraine, crossed the border into Poland from Lviv.

The group consisted of women, children and elderly men, as Ukraine has been prohibiting fighting age men from leaving the country. Several men who had been part of the group were prevented by Ukrainian authorities from crossing the border, and in several cases, their wives and children opted to stay with them.

The Jewish Agency said that all those who crossed the border had already been approved for aliyah before the Russian invasion.

Anticipating a dramatic increase in requests to immigrate to Israel in the coming days, the Jewish Agency announced on Saturday that it will be opening six document-processing stations at Ukrainian border crossing points with Poland, Moldova, Romania and Hungary.

The stations will be operated in conjunction with Nativ, the organization that determines eligibility for aliyah in former Soviet bloc countries, as well as Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Because of the dangerous situation in Ukraine, the Jewish Agency moved all its envoys stationed in the country into Poland on Saturday.

From there, they will cross the border into Ukraine every day, together with Israel’s diplomatic teams, to continue assisting Ukrainians who want to immigrate.

An estimated 200,000 Ukrainians are eligible to immigrate to Israel and receive automatic citizenship under the Law of Return.

The Jewish Agency is also preparing to temporarily house immigrants in hotels in the countries bordering Ukraine, with funding provided by the Jewish Federations of North America and Keren Hayesod.

Most of the flights to Israel for immigrants from Ukraine are paid for by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews – an organization that raises funding among evangelical Christians.

Source: Judy Maltz – HAARETZ