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Remembering the 4,000 Jews Who Fell in the Desert

Ethiopian Jews meet President Rivlin, June 5, 2016 (Photo: Mark Neyman/GPO/ASHERNET)

While the people of Israel celebrate the Holy City each year on Jerusalem Day, that is not the only commemoration that occurs. Yediot Achronot's Danny Adino Ababa tells how Israeli's Ethiopian community remembers the 4,000 Ethiopian Jews who died making their way to the Holy Land:

Operation Moses was an operation carried out by the Israeli Mossad and the American CIA whereby 8,000 Ethiopian Jews were smuggled out of Sudanese refugee camps to Israel via Brussels. The operation began on November 21, 1984 and ended on January 5, 1985 as a result of the operation's discovery by Sudanese authorities.

The ceremony occurs every year on Jerusalem Day and takes place on Mt. Herzl. Thousands of members of the Ethiopian-Israeli community took part in the ceremony, which included families who lost their relatives in the the deserts of Sudan, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, and the new Minister of Immigrant Absorption Sofa Landver (Yisrael Beitenu).

Both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Rivlin spoke at the event, and discussed the need to end discrimination and racism towards the community, while admitting to and apologizing for past mistakes during the Israeli-Ethiopians' absorption process into the state, the effects of which are felt in the community today.

Netanyahu said in his speech that "I place the utmost importance on the elimination and eradication of racism and discrimination. It is an outrageous phenomenon in our country, something which is intolerable, and something which we must come out against with all of our power. (Racism and discrimination) have no place in Israeli society..."

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