In the shadow of a missile attack from Gaza, two planes of Olim from Paris landed, bringing young children, families with many children, and adults.
"Being in Israel, it's wonderful," said Nathan Schreiber, an accountant from Paris, and father of a family of seven. "Look at the children, how happy they are here."
Israeli flags are waving all around the concourse. The director of the airport's reception hall, Boris Hellman, has been on the job here for 41 years. Although he saw many dramas over that time he got emotional as he was handing out packages to the families and children. The new Olim from France passed through a corridor which is very close to the "safe area" used in case of a "color red" alert. But these new Olim felt only excitement when they stood in the reception hall in front of the television crews and journalists from all over Israel who came to document this wonder: 420 new Olim arriving while there is a war going on in Israel and anti-Jewish demonstrations in Paris.
Liza Cohen, project manager for the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption at the Jerusalem Municipality, waited excitedly. One of the families whose Aliyah she was accompanying was about to get off the plane. The family came down slowly with infants and adults, the Schreibers from Paris. Nathan, the father, says that his family will live in Jerusalem and he plans to fly to Paris once a month for his work there as an accountant. "Look at the children, how they are happy to start a new life," he says.
Along with this group came all the Aliyah workers who deal with French Jewry, including department director Yehuda Sharf, emissaries from Paris and workers from the department in Israel. "I'm happy to see them here," says Yehuda Sharf, who was one of the organizers of this event. The first steps of this journey in Israel will take place in the morning at the Ramada Hotel in Jerusalem where a large absorption fair will be held.
The eight members of the Belhassen family are overjoyed during their Aliyah. The girls are very pleased to be photographed and their mother is happy.
Oleh certificates are issued, in small rooms, for each member of the family.
CEO of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, Oded Forer, says that of the four hundred Olim, at least sixty will be going to areas where missiles are falling.
Benny Harel, CEO of the absorption center in Ashdod, explains that individual Olim from France came at the beginning of the war and that they were assisted at the center. "Some bought homes and they came to live in them, other had rented apartments here already. They are determined to be here."
When I ask Kathy Pardo-Revkvess, project manager of Aliya in Haifa, how she explains this Aliya, she says, "They tell me they want to be part of what we are going through here in Israel, not to just watch what happens in Israel on TV."