No panic yet – Israelis in Ukraine downplay invasion fears

Israeli airlines operating flights between Ukraine and Israel have not reported any unusual spike in ticket purchases.

By World Israel News Staff

Despite calls from Israel’s Foreign Ministry to leave Ukraine as soon as possible and remarks from the Diaspora Minister signaling that the Jewish State is readying to absorb tens of thousands of refugees, some Israelis in Ukraine aren’t in a rush to flee the country.

According to a report from Channel 12, Israeli airlines operating flights between Ukraine and Israel have not reported an unusual spike in ticket purchases, something that would indicate that a mass exodus ahead of a potential Russian invasion.

The Foreign Ministry estimates that there are some 15,000 Israeli citizens currently in the eastern European country.

Rabbi Yonatan Binyamin Markovich, Kiev’s Chief Rabbi, who is also an Israeli citizen, said he was not planning on leaving Ukraine in the near future.

“Because of my role, my situation is a bit different,” he told Walla News. “An Israeli businessman or high-tech worker can leave, and there are quite a few who do, but I can’t do it.”

He explained that he felt compelled for spiritual reasons to remain in Ukraine. “The Rebbe of Lubavitch sent us here, to be with every Jew who is still here, and here we stay,” he said.

“To a large extent, it is like being the captain of a ship.”

However, Israeli government officials issued calls for citizens to return home before logistical challenges caused by a military conflict make evacuation flights increasingly difficult.

“Come home,” said Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday, addressing Israelis in Ukraine.

“Don’t take unnecessary risks. Don’t wait until you badly want to come home but it has become impossible. Take responsibility for your lives. Leave Ukraine as fast as possible and come home.”

“The flights that arrived [in Israel] from Ukraine yesterday were full,” said Foreign Minister Yair Lapid. “Thirty-two flights are scheduled for this week. I call on the citizens of Israel to board these flights.”