"The medical insurance for 14,000 Ukrainian refugees that was abruptly canceled will be extended, but only until the end of the year," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said after consultations with Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich. This comes a week after Ynet exposed that Ukrainian refugees were stripped of their right to healthcare services in Israel.
"In accordance with the Prime Minister's directive and in consultation with the Finance Minister, a decision was made to extend the social and healthcare assistance for war refugees from Ukraine until the end of the year," the government said in an official statement.
The lives of refugees were significantly disrupted when they discovered there was no longer healthcare provided to them. Some were removed from care facilities, told to pay for medical treatment in the thousands of shekels a week, or for medication that was beyond their means.
The Finance Ministry's move also had an impact on the diplomatic relations between Israel and Ukraine. According to Ukraine's Ambassador to Israel, Yevgen Korniychuk said his government was dismayed by the decision. Human rights groups including the Physicians for Human Rights along with public health experts, submitted an appeal to the Supreme Court to resolve the matter.
The Ministry of Welfare said that they will carry out the Israeli government's decision to "offer humanitarian aid to war refugees from Ukraine who are currently in the country, in accordance with wartime practices. To provide this assistance, the ministry has allocated 100 million shekels, a budget that will benefit approximately 83,000 Ukrainian citizens. The majority of this budget, 80%, will be dedicated to covering health insurance policies and providing medical services."
Ukraine's Chief Rabbi, Moshe Reuven Azman, praised the decision and called upon the Israeli government to make arrangements ahead of time to extend coverage for Ukrainian refugees until the end of 2024.