Ethiopian Jews were first brought to Israel from refugee camps in Sudan in a series of secret operations in the early 1980s by Israel's Mossad intelligence agency.
On Thursday morning, December 3, 2020, 316 olim (immigrants) arrived in Israel from Ethiopia, with another 100 landing tomorrow, as part one of “Operation Zur Israel”, reported the Jewish Migration Agency for Israel.
“Operation Zur Israel” follows the Government of Israel’s decision in October of this year to approve the Aliyah (immigration) of 2,000 members of the Ethiopian community, many of whom have been waiting for decades to move to Israel and reunite with their families.
“I was on a week-long mission in an attempt to bridge the decades-long gap for thousands of Ethiopian Jews who were left behind after Operation Solomon and the government decisions that followed,” said Minister of Aliyah and Integration Pnina Tamano-Shata.
“I’m optimistic! I believe in us as a society and believe that we will do everything possible to quickly resolve this painful and personal issue that has been going on for too many years,” the Minister continued. “I consider Operation Zur Israel one of the greatest deeds and one of the best decisions made by the unity government.”
“It’s incredibly moving to watch the landing of this flight full of new olim from Ethiopia, the first part of Operation Zur Israel. We will continue this airlift of 2,000 olim who will reunite with their families in Israel after many years of separation. For years, families both in Ethiopia and Israel have been pleading and praying to rejoin their loved ones,” said Chairman of The Jewish Agency Isaac Herzog.
“I do not remember being so moved, for many years, by such a purely Zionist sight that expresses all that we stand for. My wife Sara and I stood with tears in our eyes at the reception, watching the olim, our Ethiopian Jewish brothers and sisters getting off the plane”, said Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
“We are continuing the Zionist vision in its purest sense – ingathering of the exiles. You, who are standing at the gates of this country, carry a wonderful tradition spanning thousands of years, and it is the obligation of the State of Israel to ensure your integration into Israeli society and give you every opportunity to start your new lives here. Despite the pandemic, it’s incredibly important that you arrived now and that we learn the lessons from past Aliyah integrations,” said Israel’s Minister of Defense Benny Gantz to the new olim.
This morning’s landing at Ben Gurion Airport is the first stage of bringing the remainder of those waiting in Ethiopia to Israel.
The Ministry of Aliyah and Integration and the Jewish Agency pledged to help settle the olim in absorption centers throughout the country, where they will receive support and guidance in all areas of life, from learning Hebrew to entering the workforce and the Israeli education system.
Ethiopian Jews were first brought to Israel from refugee camps in Sudan in a series of secret operations in the early 1980s by Israel's Mossad intelligence agency on the orders of the then Prime Minister Menachem Begin.
Further operations followed, concluding with a mass airlift from Ethiopia in 1991.