Malev Resumes Flights of Soviet Jews As Emigration Level Continues to Rise

The Hungarian state airline Malev has resumed flights to Tel Aviv, bringing Soviet Jewish immigrants to Israel.

The first Malev flight from Budapest since last month landed at Ben-Gurion Airport on Sunday morning, Israel Radio reported. It was followed later in the day by an El Al flight from the Hungarian capital also carrying immigrants.

In New York, meanwhile, the National Conference on Soviet Jewry reported Monday that at least 7,300 Jews emigrated from the Soviet Union with Israeli visas in March, of whom more than 99 percent went to Israel.

The number of Soviet Jews who emigrated on U.S. visas is not yet known, but is believed to be small.

The March figure reflects a steady increase in Jewish emigration since the beginning of the year. A total of 4,713 Soviet Jews emigrated in January, and another 5,788 left the country in February.

According to unofficial sources here, 65 percent of Soviet Jews coming to Israel travel via Budapest. The number of new arrivals is not announced for security reasons.

Malev abruptly halted the transport of Soviet Jewish emigres to Israel last month, following threats by the Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine of terrorist attacks on aircraft and airports.

The airline has now restored regular flights, but has not yet implemented an agreement to start special charter flights carrying Soviet Jews to Israel.

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