JERUSALEM (JTA) — More than 19,000 new immigrants arrived in Israel in 2010, a 16 percent rise over last year.
The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption announced the increase in aliyah, the second year in a row following 10 years of declining numbers, in a statement released Tuesday.
Some 16,465 immigrants arrived in Israel in 2009 and 15,452 in 2008.
“I am very pleased to see the statistics pointing to a rise in aliyah from almost everywhere in the world, particularly in light of the campaign of delegitimizing Israel happening around the world," said Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Jewish Agency. "Many of the new immigrants are young people from free countries who feel that they belong to the State of Israel and chose to build their lives and the lives of their children here."
The number of new olim from North America rose 6 percent over that of last year — from 3,767 to 3,980.
By the end of 2010, Israel will have 7,300 new immigrants from the former Soviet Union, compared to 6,820 last year and 5,880 in 2008, according to the release.
Latin American aliyah rose 19 percent — from 1,200 in 2009 to 1,470 this year. This includes a 280 percent increase in aliyah from Venezuela — from 38 olim in 2009 to 150 in 2010.
Other areas of dramatic increase include 260 olim from Australia and New Zealand, up 48 percent from 175 in 2009, and a 63 percent increase in new immigrants from Belgium — from 152 in 2009 to 250 in 2010.
More of the new immigrants, an estimated 2,397, settled in Jerusalem this year. The oldest olah for 2010 is 99 years old.
“Successful aliyah and absorption have always been and always will be the core of the Zionist enterprise and a guarantee of the growth of the Jewish state," said Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver. "I am happy that the trend changed over the last two years and the number of olim is rising."