The number of immigrants to Israel exceeded 30,000 for the first time in 12 years, with a 50 percent increase in the last two years, according to data from The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption.

“The high number of immigrants, particularly from western countries, attests to the drawing power of the Zionist idea. The fact that immigrants choose to come to Israel is a sign that Israel invests their lives with meaning that they cannot find elsewhere,” said Natan Sharanksy, head of The Jewish Agency.

The highest number of immigrants, 7,900, came out of France this year, while 7,000 new immigrants arrived from the Ukraine. Efforts to encourage Aliyah in those specific countries were increased this year due to security concerns for Jews living there.

In Eastern Europe alone, there was a 25 percent increase in Aliyah, with a 40 percent increase from last year in the number of immigrants coming from Russia. However, the United States and Canada saw a decrease in the number of immigrants moving to Israel this year with just 3,770 compared to an estimated 3,870 last year.

Half of new immigrants to Israel this year were young people, under the age of 30.