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Israel is bracing for a significant increase in Jewish immigration, or aliyah, in the coming year, according to Aliyah and Integration Minister Ofir Sofer in a statement his ministry published on Tuesday. There has been a striking rise in the number of people exploring the possibility of immigration to Israel, with a 149% increase in France and an 81% increase in North America, according to the minister.
Sofer conveyed the country’s readiness to face what he described as “a state of emergency” due to the rise in antisemitic events as a result of Operation Swords of Iron in Israel.
According to the statement, “the minister has been actively engaged in emergency discussions with key security and international agencies.” He added that reports from Jewish leaders around the world highlight a sharp rise in antisemitic attacks, especially against young Jews in educational settings.
France, in particular, saw an unprecedented increase in antisemitic attacks, with the past month’s incidents surpassing the peak numbers recorded in 2002. Sofer has instructed his ministry’s professionals to prepare for a large wave of immigrants, reflecting a heightened sense of unity and a collective desire to support Israel. “We are in a state of emergency,” the minister stated in the ministry’s release. “The reports I have been receiving are very concerning. Our goal now is to strengthen the ties between us and support the communities that stand with Israel.”
Emphasizing the urgency and solidarity, he noted, “Precisely now, we are seeing a surge in the number of people interested in aliyah. The waves of unity and Jewish solidarity are bolstering the aliyah movement and strengthening the State of Israel.”
Sofer also reassured that new arrivals would be met with adequate support systems to ensure smooth integration. “The State of Israel awaits everyone,” he concluded.
Israeli immigration numbers had been decreasing in 2023
That said, Israel is actually seeing a decrease in aliyah in 2023: In July, a report from The Jewish Agency for Israel, obtained by The Jerusalem Post, revealed a significant drop in aliyah from Western countries to Israel during the first half of 2023, even as numbers from Russia showed a notable rise. This trend aligned with the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, which appeared to be a major contributing factor to the fluctuation in migration statistics.
The number of immigrants from Western European countries arriving in Israel during January-June 2023 was recorded at 889, marking a decrease of 44% compared to the same period in the previous year. Country-specific data portrays a sharper downturn. French aliyah, for example, fell by 59% to 393 immigrants, and from Britain, the number dropped by 40% to 171 immigrants.
In contrast, the data shows a significant surge in aliyah from Russia. Amidst the escalating Russian-Ukrainian conflict, the number of immigrants from Russia rose sharply, marking a 32% increase with 22,851 immigrants compared to the same period in the previous year.
According to the Jewish Agency, about 700 immigrants arrived during October 2023 – when Israel was at war for most of the month – while during October 2022, 5,773 new immigrants arrived in Israel, 4,553 of them from Russia.