Since the beginning of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, some 500,000 Israelis have returned home from abroad, according to the country’s Interior Ministry.

Approximately 15 percent returned after an “extended stay” abroad, the business daily Globes reported on Sunday.

The top reasons given by Israeli backpackers for their return were the low quality of health care in Third World countries, parental pressure and the closure of countries to tourism.

Israel worked to return thousands of Israelis home during the shutdowns, with Israel’s national airline El Al flying them in from destinations across the world.

Some of the returnees had moved abroad permanently; there are an estimated 500,000 living in Western countries, not including their children, according to the report. Many of the returnees in this latter category returned because they were put on unpaid leave.

The Israeli government grants incentives to returning Israeli nationals, including income-tax benefits. Those living abroad for five years get an income-tax exemption for five years, and 10 years for capital-gains tax.

A source in the Immigration Ministry told Globes that it also appears that a large number of Israelis are returning because of Israel’s success in handling the pandemic compared to other countries.

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