Just a few days before Israeli Independence Day (Yom Ha’atzmaut), 220 Jews from Ukraine became new citizens of Israel on Monday, arriving on three separate flights organized by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.

“We at the Fellowship are proud of every new immigrant who chooses to come to Israel and who is not deterred by the current reality on the ground,” said IFCJ president Yael Eckstein, who took over the helm of the organization after the passing of her father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, in February. “More than anything else, I am inspired by the immigrants who choose to continue to settle in Israel’s southern region and Gaza Envelope.”

“This has been a challenging time of late for Jews everywhere, as increasing antisemitism is evident in many countries and reminds us of dark times when defenseless Jews fell prey to persecution and destruction,” she added. “However, to our great joy, today we have a state and a Jewish people responsible for its own fate. Moreover, thanks to our true friends, Christian lovers of Israel, we also have moral and practical support.”

Forty-two of the new immigrants moved to localities near the Gaza Strip, including Ashdod, Ashkelon, Sderot, Gan Yavne and Beersheva.

Among the 220 new Ukrainian immigrants, 50 are children up to the age of 18. The oldest is 84 years old.

They will not be the only new immigrants arriving this week to celebrate Israel’s Independence Day as Israeli citizens for the first time. A total of 17 different flights sponsored by IFCJ will bring another 37 new immigrants from other countries, including Uruguay, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Brazil, Venezuela and France.