(JTA) – Immigration to Israel under its Law of Return increased in the first quarter of 2015 by 41 per cent over the corresponding period last year.
Approximately a third of the 6,499 newcomers who landed at Ben-Gurion Airport in the first three months of 2015 were from Ukraine, and more than half were from the former Soviet Union, according to an interim report by the Jewish Agency for Israel released earlier this month.
Jewish immigration, or aliyah, to Israel from Ukraine comprised 1,971 individuals in the first quarter of 2015 compared to 625 in the first three months of 2014 – a 215 per cent leap.
Ukraine’s economy has suffered huge losses and monetary depreciation as a result of a revolution that swept its former president, Viktor Yanukovych, from power and triggered an armed conflict with Russian-backed insurgents, with devastating effects to the country’s industrial heart in the east.
Aliyah from Russia also increased significantly, from 1,016 to 1,515. Plummeting oil prices have triggered a financial crisis exacerbated by Western sanctions over the government’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula last year.
In January through March this year, 1,271 French olim, or Jewish immigrants, arrived in Israel compared to 1,413 in 2014. France in 2014 was for the first time Israel’s largest source of olim, partly due to rising levels of anti-Semitic violence and a stagnant economy.
Aliyah from North America decreased by seven per cent to 478 new arrivals this year; while British aliyah rose by 43 per cent to a total of 166 olim in 2015.