JERUSALEM (JTA) — More than 200 French Jews, half of them children, arrived in Israel as new immigrants.
The special aliyah flight that arrived early Tuesday morning was arranged by the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption.
More than 20,000 French Jews have moved to Israel over the past five years, according to the Jewish Agency, with a record of over 7,200 French Jews making aliyah in 2014.
According to data compiled by The Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, some 4,260 immigrants from France have arrived in Israel this year, an 11 percent increase from the 3,830 who came during the same period in 2014.
In addition, interest in aliyah from France has jumped by some 30 percent. Some 3,160 new aliyah files were opened in France during the first six months of 2015, compared to some 2,509 during the same period last year.
The coastal city of Netanya is the top destination for French immigrants to Israel, followed by Tel Aviv-Yafo, Jerusalem, Ashdod and Raanana.
France has seen an 84 percent increase in anti-Semitic attacks recorded during the first quarter of 2015 over the corresponding period last year, the SPCJ security service of France’s Jewish communities announced earlier this month. The worst of the attacks this year occurred on Jan. 9, when an Islamist killed four Jewish shoppers at a kosher supermarket.
“We are seeing an unprecedented wave of Aliyah from European countries, which indicates not only how Europe is becoming an uncomfortable place for Jews, but — even more importantly — the extent to which Israel is becoming a magnet for Jews interested in a meaningful Jewish life, in freedom, personal security, and a sense of belonging to a country that is integral to the future of the Jewish people,” Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel, said in a statement.