According to the reports in the longest running newspaper currently in print in Israel, Israeli government is allegedly preparing to fly out tens of thousands of Jewish people eligible for Israeli citizenship from Ukraine in the event of a Russian all-out offensive.
Haaretz newspaper reported yesterday that officials from several Israeli government departments had met over the weekend to discuss the risk to the Jewish community in Ukraine that could be potentially caught up in a conflict.
The briefing is said to have included officials from the National Security council; the foreign defense, transport, and affairs ministries; as well as those responsible for maintaining relations with Jews residing in territories of the former Soviet Union.
Israel has long had plans for the mass repatriation of its potential citizens if needed, the authors of the report said, but such contingencies for evacuations have been updated in Ukraine amid mounting fears of an offensive.
Analysts estimate there could be as many as 400,000 Jewish people living in Ukraine, and around 200,000 are thought to be eligible for Israeli citizenship under the Middle Eastern nation’s Law of Return law – with close to 75,000 of those living in the east of the country.
The mass evacuation scenario comes amid rising concerns in recent months that Moscow is massing troops along the Russian-Ukrainian border ahead of striking Ukraine. On Sunday, the US Department of State ordered the families of diplomats working in Kiev to leave the country due to the continued threat of Russian military action.
The Kremlin has customarily denied that it is planning to attack. Its press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, has said that the movement of Russia’s armed forces on “its own territory,” including amassing 100,000 troops on Ukrainian border is “an internal matter” and “of no concern to anyone else.”