The Israeli Embassy to Ukraine evacuated its personnel from the capital, Kyiv, to the western city Lviv on Tuesday.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid ordered the relocation on Monday after an internal assessment of the situation and discussions with international actors. Other western countries and NATO already moved their staffs out of Kyiv for safety reasons the week before.
Lapid said that he is prioritizing the safety of Israel’s emissaries and citizens in Ukraine. Embassy staff now work from a temporary consular office rented by the Israeli government.
Diplomats on the ground have been urging Israelis to leave Ukraine before another escalation takes place. Reportedly, only around 4,000 Israelis out of an estimated 12,000 have done so.
The Foreign Ministry announced on Twitter: "The consular office in Lviv has been working to provide travel documents to Israeli citizens since Thursday (17/02/2022) and will assist citizens interested in leaving the country, primarily through land border crossings to neighboring countries."
The consular office in Lviv has been working to provide travel documents to Israeli citizens since Thursday (17/02/2022) and will assist citizens interested in leaving the country, primarily through land border crossings to neighbouring countries. (2/4)— Israel Foreign Ministry (@IsraelMFA) February 21, 2022
The Jewish Agency, which provides services to Jews in Ukraine, has also moved its employees to Lviv.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett reiterated his request on Tuesday that no government ministers shall make any public comments on the situation in Ukraine.
Earlier this week Nachman Shai, Israel’s minister of Diaspora Affairs, stressed in an interview with a local radio station that “Israel’s first loyalty is to the United States.” He cautioned that urging 200,000 Ukrainian Jews to leave their country might be viewed as meddling in the country’s internal affairs.
Lapid said that Israel would naturally side with the U.S. in the conflict despite its interest to keep a good relationship with Russia. In a controversial remark that received a lot of backlash, he noted that Israel may consider joining U.S. sanctions against Russia.
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.