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ICEJ Sponsors Aliyah Flight in Urgent Ethiopian Airlift

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Posted on: 
4 Dec 2020
ICEJ Sponsors Aliyah Flight in Urgent Ethiopian Airlift

Some 432 Ethiopian Jews arrived in Israel late this week in the first phase of “Operation Rock of Israel” (Tzur Israel in Hebrew), a special airlift being carried out by the Israeli government and the Jewish Agency for Israel. Drought conditions, a locust plague, the coronavirus pandemic, and now a civil war in Ethiopia have given new urgency to bringing home the last remnant of this ancient Jewish community. The airlift operation is being supported by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, which sponsored the flight arriving today with 116 new immigrants on board.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials were on hand Thursday morning to greet the first flight of 316 Ethiopian newcomers, who were accompanied by Aliyah Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, an Ethiopian immigrant to Israel herself at age three some four decades ago. A second flight landed at Ben Gurion Airport on Friday morning with an additional 116 Ethiopian immigrants, all part of an effort to bring a total of 2,000 Ethiopian olim by the end of January 2021.

The Israeli cabinet decided in 2015 to bring home the last remnant of Ethiopian Jewry, consisting of some 9,000 ‘Falash Mura’ who have been living in poor conditions in transit camps in Gondar and Addis Ababa, some waiting there for up to 20 years to make Aliyah. The Christian Embassy has now sponsored Aliyah flights for over 2,300 Ethiopian Jews who have arrived in Israel since then, but the immigration process has been slow and the challenges to the well-being of those left behind are mounting.

There are now approximately 7-8,000 members of the Falash Mura community remaining in Ethiopia, and Aliyah Minister Tamano-Shata, together with Jewish Agency Chairman Isaac Herzog, are spearheading the effort to bring them to Israel over the next couple years.

Ethiopia has been suffering under a prolonged drought, while a massive plague of locust also has hit East Africa this year. As a result, food supplies are running short and prices are spiraling upward. Many Jews in the transit camps are malnourished, especially children. And Ethiopia is now weathering a serious wave of coronavirus. Add to this the armed rebellion which erupted in early November in the breakaway province of Tigray, just 45 miles across the border from the Gondar transit camps, and the situation has become quite worrisome, particularly for their relatives already living in Israel.

“We are thrilled to see these latest arrivals from the ancient Ethiopian Jewish community finally standing in the Land of Israel,” said ICEJ President Dr. Jürgen Bühler. “This airlift operation comes at a critical moment due to the worsening conditions facing those still living in the transit camps in Gondar and Addis Ababa. We welcome the Israeli government’s decision to bring them speedily home to Israel. It is truly a privilege for the ICEJ to support this historic and humanitarian effort to reunite Ethiopian families and fulfill the dreams of many generations to return to the Jewish homeland.”

Please consider what you can give to help us with sponsoring more flights for Ethiopian Jews as this urgent airlift continues over coming weeks.

Donate today to our Ethiopian Aliyah efforts at: