Jews fear being trapped in Russia as Moscow orders Jewish Agency to cease operations – report

NGO helping Russian and Ukrainian Jews resettle in Israel ordered by Moscow to halt all activities in Russia.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

The Russian government has ordered the Jewish Agency, which helps resettle Jews from Russia and Ukraine in Israel, to immediately halt all of its operations in Russia, the Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday.

The order was given via a letter from the Russian government to the NGO. The Jewish Agency is reportedly weighing its options, with support from Israel’s Foreign Ministry and Prime Minister’s Office.

In a statement to the Post, the Jewish Agency said that “as part of the work of the ….delegation in Russia, we are occasionally required to make certain adjustments, as required by authorities.”

They added that “the contacts with the authorities take place continuously, with the aim of continuing our activities in accordance with the rules set by the competent bodies. Even nowadays, such a dialogue takes place.”

The news rattled the Russian Jewish community.

“People…have been feeling the Iron Curtain setting on them and they fear they won’t be able to escape the country,” a source from the Jewish community in Russia told the Post.

“A number of Jews have said that the Russian authorities are trying to arrest them and that they fear for their lives.”

Around 180,000 Jews live in Russia.

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The order from the Russian government comes on the heels of deteriorating relations between Jerusalem and Moscow.

As Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelensky has repeatedly slammed Israel for implementing Western-style sanction on Russia, Russia has blasted Israel for “playing both sides.”

On Monday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova released a statement harshly condemning Israel for its air strikes on Iranian assets in Syria.

Calling the move “categorically unacceptable,” she said that Moscow “strongly condemns such irresponsible actions, which violate Syria’s sovereignty and the basic norms of international law, and demands their unconditional cessation.”

A land dispute over a Russian Orthodox Church compound in Jerusalem has also sparked tensions, as Moscow demands that Israel immediately hand over ownership of the property.