Ukraine is considering closing the border to the thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jewish Israelis who visit Uman every year to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, at the burial site of the Hassidic Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, who died in 1810.
The potential closure would be a retaliatory response to Israeli deportations of Ukrainian tourists from Israel, the Times of Israel reported on Wednesday.
Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevhen Korniychuk is currently in Ukraine, where he is involved in preparations for the possible arrival of thousands of Israeli pilgrims this fall.
According to Korniychuk, Israel has deported about 10% of Ukrainian tourists who visit the Jewish state.
“We have let our feelings on this be known,” the ambassador said.
Korniychuk previously indicated that Jewish pilgrims hoping to visit Uman could be stopped at the Ukrainian border and turned away due to security concerns. However, Israeli officials, remain skeptical that Israelis would encounter problems entering the country because of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
Despite travel warnings, last year more than 20,000 Israelis traveled to Uman, located in central Ukraine, about 125 miles south of its capital of Kyiv.
In April 2023, Uman suffered a Russian missile attack, responsible for killing 23 people in a residential building, six of whom were children.
Kornyichuk said that if Ukraine does not close the border to Israelis, the Jewish state should look to reduce the number of arrivals and send Israeli security staff to oversee the pilgrims during their visit.
“We do hope that the Israeli government will help us secure their own people,” Korniychuk added.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.