In urgent meeting, Bennett talks Ukraine evacuation of Israeli nationals

In a rare Shabbat meeting, PM discusses with Lapid and national security officials extraction of Israelis from potential war zone amid tensions between Ukraine and Russia; Foreign Ministry concerned for safety of local Jewish community
Moran Azulay, News agencies|Updated:
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Saturday called on all Israelis to leave Ukraine immediately.
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  • Bennett earlier in the day, convened a special meeting to discuss growing concerns over a Russian invasion of Ukraine and the evacuation of Israeli nationals from the former Soviet Union state.
    The meeting included Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and other ministry officials, the head of the National Security Council Eyal Hulata and other unnamed figures.
    2 View gallery
    Ukraine tank and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett
    Ukraine tank and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett
    Ukraine tank and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett
    (Photo: AFP, Reuters )
    The meeting, a rare occurrence on Shabbat for the religious prime minister, was described to have concentrated on the possible extraction of Israelis from Ukraine but can also be an indication of the urgency over the pending war.
    On Friday, Israel announced it will also evacuate all Israeli diplomats and their families from the country and issued a travel warning to Ukraine following rising tensions between Kiev and Russia.
    "Following the worsening situation in Ukraine, the Foreign Ministry recommends that Israeli citizens residing in the country reconsider staying, and in any case avoid approaching hotspots," the ministry stated.
    The U.S., Britain, Germany and others have also said they were removing most of their diplomats.
    2 View gallery
    כוחות הביטחון מתאמנים בחרסון שבאוקראינה
    כוחות הביטחון מתאמנים בחרסון שבאוקראינה
    Ukraine troops practice for Russian invasion on Saturday
    (Photo: Reuters)
    The Foreign Ministry estimates there are some 15,000 Israelis in Ukraine, 4,000 of which have already registered with the ministry.
    Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Saturday, instructed the IDF to prepare in case there is a need to extract Israelis from Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion.
    There was also concern for the safety of the nearly 200,000 strong Jewish community as the ministry expected many of them to request to immigrate to Israel.
    Earlier, a U.S. official said the Americans picked up intelligence that Russia is looking at Wednesday as a target date for the invasion. The official, who was not authorized to speak publicly and did so only on condition of anonymity, would not say how definitive the intelligence was.
    First published: 16:22, 02.12.22
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