Thousands Stranded in Europe as Israel Admits Failure
In hardly a surprising turn of events, the Israeli government announced Thursday, less than 24 hours before the Jewish New Year’s Eve, that despite its “many efforts,” Ukraine has stood firm in its refusal to admit anyone traveling from Israel into the country. Tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews left Israel in recent weeks in the hopes of making the annual pilgrimage to the burial site of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov in the city of Uman. This, despite repeated warnings by the Kyiv government that it would not allow them entry because of Israel’s world-leading rate of coronavirus infections. Last month, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu phoned Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and requested that he assist him in preventing infections by announcing the border closure. Yet after public outcry from his ultra-Orthodox political allies, Netanyahu promised to form a “special committee” that would solve the issue. The announcement gave hope to many thousands who made their way to the Ukrainian border, only to discover on Thursday that the committee had returned empty-handed. An estimated 4,000 are currently stranded near the Ukraine-Belarus border alone.