Israel prepares for Ukraine mission (Archive: Pixabay)

The Israeli government is taking urgent steps to prepare the evacuation of Israelis and Jews from Ukraine, as war fears in Europe escalate. Israel is focusing on getting Israelis out for now, while making initial preparations to evacuate Ukrainian Jews as well if necessary.

Defense Minister Gantz ordered the IDF to prepare for a potential rescue mission of Israelis in Ukraine, Walla News reported. Earlier, Israel issued a travel warning, as Prime Minister Bennett convened two urgent sessions with top officials, including the national security adviser.

In parallel, Israel is sending extra diplomats to Ukraine to assist in the evacuation of Israelis and Jews if needed, Foreign Minister Lapid said. He also instructed the Foreign Ministry to shift to emergency protocols as tensions in Europe skyrocket.

Emergency plans updated

There are currently 10,000-15,000 Israelis in Ukraine, plus an estimated 150,000-200,000 local Jews. Israel is in close contact with Ukraine’s Jewish community and keeping a close watch on the situation, a senior official told Walla.

Notably, Israel updated its plans for the mass evacuation of Jews from Ukraine in late January, Haaretz daily reported, including a possible emergency airlift. Some 75,000 people in eastern Ukraine are eligible for Israeli citizenship, but it’s unclear how many would want to leave if war erupts, the report said.

Israel is also concerned that a war in Ukraine will have a dangerous effect on the Middle East, possibly encouraging Iran to make aggressive moves in the region.