Just hours after Russian President Vladimir Putin sent his troops to attack Ukraine’s cities on Feb. 24, Ra’am and the Southern Branch of the Islamic Movement opened a joint emergency situation room to oversee the extraction of Israeli Arab students. According to estimates, there are between 2,000 and 2,500 Israeli Arab students in Ukraine, most of them studying medicine. They decided to study overseas due to the difficulty in getting accepted to Israeli universities because of a limited number of places, particularly in the faculties of medicine.
As part of the operation, which was led by Ra’am, a number of pick-up points were created along the borders of countries neighboring Ukraine, including Poland, Romania and Moldova. Arab students were told to get to these points, where there would be party representatives and volunteers to provide them with transportation, lodging, food and drink. They would also be provided with an internet connection so that they could call worried family members back home and allay their fears. Finally, they would also arrange flights back to Israel for anyone who wanted that.