Rescued Jews
By: David Parsons, Vice President & Senior Spokesman

Israeli and Jewish Agency authorities acted swiftly on Thursday to rescue over 200 Israeli citizens and Ethiopian Jews from the raging conflict which erupted in Gondar this week. Among them are a group of 61 Ethiopian Jews already deemed eligible to immigrate to Israel, and JAFI has requested assistance from the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem with their Aliyah flights to Israel as soon as their travel documents can be arranged.

Over the past week, heavy fighting broke out between the national armed forces and a regional militia in the Amhara region, in northern Ethiopia. The clashes engulfed the regional capital of Gondar, where thousands of Ethiopian Jews have been waiting for up to two decades for their turn to make Aliyah and be reunited with close relatives already in Israel.

Israeli officials were watching intently the rapidly unfolding events in Gondar, where a number of JAFI staff and volunteers were working among the Ethiopian Jewish community to care for their needs and process those applying to join family members in Israel. The fierce street battles forced everyone to remain in their homes, while the regional airport was shut down. But once the national army regained control of the city late Wednesday, the window opened to fly the Israeli volunteers and tourists and the eligible Ethiopian immigrants to safety in Addis Ababa.

Doron Almog, a former IDF general and the new JAFI chairman, has much experience with Israeli rescue missions in Africa, as he was a commander during the Entebbe raid which freed Israelis held hostage by the PLO in 1976, and also helped lead the secret “Operation Moses” emergency airlift of some 8,000 endangered Ethiopian Jews trapped in Sudan in 1984–1985.

This time, Almog was in touch with JAFI workers in Gondar throughout the week and learned that “all the streets were blocked, there was no food, no supplies, no water or electricity, and all the Israelis and Ethiopian Jews in the city were terrified due to the deteriorating situation.”

So, Almog consulted with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior Israeli leaders to coordinate a rescue effort.

“In the last few days, citizens of Israel and [persons] entitled to make Aliyah from Ethiopia entered into distress in the battle zones. I ordered them to be taken out of there,” Netanyahu said in a press statement today.

The group of 61 Ethiopian Jews eligible for Aliyah will be taken care of by the Jewish Agency’s team in Addis Ababa until the necessary procedures are finalized and they board their flight to Israel. The ICEJ has been asked to help fund their Aliyah flights to Israel and absorption costs once in the Land.

Since the historic Ethiopian Aliyah was resumed by Israeli government decision in 2015, the Christian Embassy has sponsored Aliyah flights for 3,225 out of the 7,514 of the Jewish immigrants who have arrived from Ethiopia, including 375 so far this year.

We now have the opportunity to bring these latest Ethiopian Jews rescued from the fires of this latest surge in violence in the troubled East African country. Please consider your best gift to help bring them home to safety in Israel and join with us in being part of this ongoing historic rescue mission from Ethiopia!

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Photo Credit: Barak Avraham of NGO Beyachad.