Over 30,000 people made aliyah to Israel in 2015, the highest number in over a decade.
Statistics published by the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and the Jewish Agency on Tuesday showed an increase in aliyah of around 10 percent from 2014 and the highest number of arrivals since the 2003 peak in immigration.
Welcoming reception for new olim from the US (Photo: Avi Moalem)
The biggest proportion of olim came from France, with around 7,900 French immigrants arriving in Israel in 2015. This is the second time that France has topped the list of countries of origin for olim, a fact attributed in part to a string of terror attacks that have recently hit the country.
Aliyah from Ukraine has also increased once again, with 7,000 olim arriving from the troubled country – a rise of around 15 percent from 2014 and around 230 percent from 2013.
A further 6,600 immigrants arrived from Russia. In total, the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and the Jewish Agency recorded 15,000 arrivals from eastern European countries, a 25 percent increase from to 2014.
Meanwhile, around 9,330 olim arrived from Western Europe, a six percent increase on 2014's figure. A slight decrease in aliyah from the US was registered, with 3,768 arrivals in 2015 compared to 3,871 the year before.
Tel Aviv proved the most popular destination for new immigrants, with 3,620 olim making their way to the central Israeli city. Close behind Tel Aviv were Netanya, Jerusalem and Haifa.
Welcoming reception for 220 new olim from the US and Canada at Ben Gurion Airport (Photo: Itay Blumenthal)
The average age of olim has gone down. Around half of the new arrivals in 2015 were under the age of 30, with a 20 percent increase in new olim aged 19 or under.
Minister for Aliyah and Absorption Ze'ev Elkin said that the figures show Israel has a "wonderful window of opportunity."
"While we were all busy with day-to-day problems in Israel, we didn't pay attention to the most meaningful event this year: the number of olim crossing the 30,000 mark for the first time in more than a decade," Elkin added.
"The number of immigrants has increased by 50 percent in the last two years and the year hasn't even finished.
"We must do everything we can in order to make the most of this wonderful window of opportunity and work on absorption and encouraging aliyah, so that we can bring even 50,000 to Israel," Elkin continued.