Menu JTA Search

Second group of Kosovar refugees receive a temporary haven in Israel

JERUSALEM, May 26 (JTA) — A second group of 100 Kosovar refugees have arrived in Israel from Macedonia. The group, which arrived Wednesday on a plane chartered by the Jewish Agency for Israel, includes members of some 19 families, as well as relatives of refugees who arrived in Israel in April. “The main criteria” in choosing the refugees “was to preserve whole families,” Uri Konforti, a Jewish Agency official told Israel Radio. Among the arrivals was Arta Cucci, a 23-year-old medical student who was reunited with her parents and two siblings at the airport. “This is the happiest moment of my life, I will never forget this moment,” she told reporters. In his first public appearance since his election defeat last week, outgoing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was among the Israeli officials at Ben-Gurion Airport receiving the newcomers. Netanyahu, who boarded the plane to greet the refugees, declined to speak with reporters. His Cabinet approved taking in the latest group of refugees during a meeting earlier this month. The Jewish Agency brought the refugees to Israel on the return leg of a flight that had delivered eight tons of food, medical supplies and clothes to Macedonia. Apart from the latest flight, the Jewish Agency has sent 10 flights to refugee camps in Macedonia and Albania with more than 120 tons of aid, according to agency officials. Most of the refugees are to be housed at Kibbutz Ma’agan Michael, in northern Israel, where April’s group is housed. Others will be taken to Kibbutz Kramim, near Beersheba in southern Israel. The refugees are being given the status of tourists, and their stay in Israeli will be coordinated by the agency and the Ministry of Absorption.