Israel has resumed accepting applications from Russians for its repatriation program days after suspending document processing over fears of protests outside the Israeli embassy in Moscow, Israel’s Ambassador in Russia Alexander Ben Zvi said Thursday.
Ben Zvi told the state-run news agency TASS that his diplomatic mission stopped accepting repatriation applications on Tuesday to avoid potential clashes between Israeli diplomats and demonstrators.
“We’re starting to accept applications earlier [than planned],” he said, noting that applicants had already started lining up outside the Israeli Embassy in Moscow on Thursday morning.
Fears of anti-Israeli violence around the world spread after Tel Aviv launched retaliatory strikes on the Palestinian Gaza Strip in response to Hamas militants’ surprise attack on Israel in early October.
More than 50,000 Russian citizens are estimated to have been repatriated to Israel between February 2022 and early March this year.
Days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Israel launched a fast-tracked immigration program for Russians and Belarusians in response to a surge in applications.
Israel suspended the emergency program in April, leaving in place standard immigration procedures.
Israel allows anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent to immigrate to the country and obtain Israeli citizenship.
Russians and Ukrainians accounted for nearly three-quarters of new arrivals to Israel since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine 20 months ago.