Israel assists Syrians, Lebanese fleeing Ukraine

“We’ll help anyone who we can help to get to the border,” the Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson stated.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Israel is helping Arab nationals, including citizens of enemy countries, flee Ukraine as the fight against the Russian invasion of the country intensifies, the Foreign Ministry confirmed Sunday.

“We’ll help anyone who we can help to get to the border,” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lior Haiat told Haaretz, although, he added, “we can’t  help him cross the border.”

The Jerusalem Post reported Monday that a group of Israeli Arabs who were studying in Kharkiv had boarded a bus arranged by Israeli officials to get them to the Moldovan border. They asked – and received permission – to bring along friends who hailed from Lebanon and Syria, with which Israel has no diplomatic relations.

Egyptians and Arabs from eastern Jerusalem, who are Israeli residents, were also on the bus.

The report said they were greeted at the border after a grueling 24-hour ride by Ambassador Joel Lion, a member of the Eurasian & Western Balkans Division of the ministry and a former Israeli ambassador to the Ukraine.

Fadi Amun, a reporter for Haaretz, tweeted about the generosity of the Israeli diplomats.

“A Lebanese citizen in Ukraine with a group of Arab Israelis told me he’s not getting help to escape,” Fadi Amun posted on Saturday. “So an Israeli official now said in response: ‘We have no problem helping Lebanese or any other Arab citizens as well. He can join the Israeli bus.’”

Asaad Hanna, a human rights activist and former senior member of the humanitarian NGO Syrian Civil Defense, confirmed the news.

“Lebanese students were not able to evacuate Ukraine because the Lebanese government is not doing anything. They were helped out by the Israeli mission in Ukraine,” he tweeted.

Hundreds of Israeli Arabs are estimated to be among the 6,000 Israelis still left in Ukraine, and all have equally been called upon to get to one of the five border countries so that they can be flown back home.

The Foreign Ministry notified everyone who had registered at the embassy that they should “display on their bodies or vehicles a prominent sign with the letters ‘IL’ in such a way that Israeli officials can locate Israeli citizens in queues and assist them, if possible.” the statement said.

Photos posted on social media and seen by TPS show Arab-Israeli students holding up the “IL” signs.

Haiat estimated that some 2,000 Israelis have managed to leave Ukraine in the last three days, after the invasion began. According to Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine Michael Brodsky, the Jewish state is “the only country at the [Polish] border” helping its citizens.

He added that it was a very “difficult” situation, as his staff is limited to supplying valid travel documents for those whose passports were expired or who had left them behind in their rush to leave the war-torn country.

There are “mass refugee lines, and it’s impossible to pull them out without causing an outburst of rage from others waiting in line,” he said.