Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed 121 new immigrants (olim) from Ukraine on Monday morning at a reception held at the foot of their plane.

The olim, who arrived on a special flight organized by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, were filled with excitement at the welcoming ceremony that was prepared for them, which also included the participation and attendance of Absorption Minister Yoav Gallant and Fellowship president Yael Eckstein.

Netanyahu, who took time to shake hands and speak with the new arrivals, said, “I am especially pleased to see the children who moved to Israel today. These children have a wonderful future here in Israel. Here is your home, and here is your place. I invite you to share with me any details about your absorption process, and if you have any problems, I am here at your service.”

The passengers referred to both a deteriorating economic situation and a prevalence of anti-Semitism as two primary factors motivating them to move to the Jewish state.

Yael Eckstein, president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, welcomes children and adults from Ukraine to their new home in Israel, on July 29, 2019. Photo by Noam Moskowitz.

Olga Chinui, a former resident of Kiev who moved to Israel with her husband and son, said “my son was asked by his teacher to remove the Star of David around his neck.” They are expected to settle in Katzrin, often referred to as the “capital of the Golan Heights.”

Eckstein acknowledged that “we live in a complex reality. On the one hand, manifestations of anti-Semitism are increasing in Europe. On the other hand, as the prophets said, the children [Jews] shall return to their borders, and the people of Israel have returned to their homes in Zion.”

The coastal city of Haifa will absorb 24 of the olim, the largest number among the group moving to a respective municipality. The age range among them all spans from a 9-month-old infant to a 78-year-old. Forty of the olim are under the age of 18.

“From the beginning of the year, the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption has absorbed more than 17,000 new olim from all over the world—an increase of 25 percent compared to last year,” said Gallant. “This summer, thousands of additional olim from all over the world are expected to arrive. The Ministry of Immigration and Absorption is working diligently to provide all of them with the most necessary tools and services for a quick and comfortable adjustment in their new home.”

Eckstein and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greet new immigrants from Ukraine as they disembark from their plane on July 29, 2019. Photo by Noam Moskowitz.