Olena and Eduard German, a Jewish couple from Kharkiv, sought safety in an Israeli community in the West Bank after Russia invaded Ukraine.
In Maale Adumim, a community of more than 42,000 people between Jerusalem and the Dead Sea that is regarded as illegal by international law, the Germans are rebuilding their life six months after the start of the war in their homeland in a new home decked with Israeli flags.
According to the most recent United Nations statistics, the Russian invasion on February 24 precipitated the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II, which resulted in the registration of over 6.8 million Ukrainians as refugees across the continent.
Israel has welcomed almost 30,000 Ukrainians, including 12,000 Jews who made “Aliyah” or came under the Law of Return, which grants those with Jewish heritage immediate citizenship.
The pair, who worked as university instructors, remembered their harrowing flight from Kharkiv, a city in northeastern Ukraine close to the Russian border, and their arduous two-day drive to Lviv, Ukraine’s westernmost city, where they found relative safety. The family was initially housed in Nof Hagalil, a community in northern Israel, but they were determined to live in Judea and Samaria, the biblical Jewish designation for the West Bank, so they started looking for a place to reside in a settlement.
The Yesha Council, the umbrella organisation for the 475,000 Israelis living in the West Bank, was one of the Israeli organisations that deployed teams to bordering nations and then to Ukraine shortly after the Russian invasion, where they distributed aid and offered counselling services.
They had a new homeland to give Ukrainian Jews, though, which was more. Dilmoni claims that since the refugee crisis started, over 60 Ukrainian families—among them, the Germans—have relocated to the West Bank.
Many Israelis believe that the West Bank was taken from Jordan during the Middle East war of 1967 and is the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people.
However, the international world views Israel’s occupation of the region and the settlements it established there as unlawful and a barrier to any potential peace deal with the Palestinians. “I can’t understand how Judea could be occupied by Jews,” he told AFP.