On December 3, 316 new olim (immigrants) from Ethiopia landed in Israel, and another 100 are on their way, as part of Operation “Tzur Israel.” The immigrants are returned together with the Minister of Immigration and Absorption, who traveled to Ethiopia to oversee preparations for immigration. The initiative has been conducted in cooperation with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, and the Chairman of the Jewish Agency, Isaac Herzog.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who was present at the event said, “Our dear brothers and sisters, Ethiopian immigrants, we are so excited to welcome you here. Welcome to the Land of Israel. Welcome to the State of Israel. You have waited a long time for the dream to come true, and today it is coming true.”
Minister of Immigration Absorption Pnina Tamano-Shata added, “They have been waiting to make aliyah (immigrate to Israel) and have dreamed of Jerusalem and Israel for years. I believe that we as a society can help to end this painful issue and humanitarian crisis that has continued for far too long.”
Isaac Herzog of the Jewish Agency said for these 2,000 immigrants, coming to Israel is the fulfillment of a dream: “Entire families have longed and prayed for this moment for many years as they sat in the transit camps in Ethiopia.”
Yael Eckstein, President and CEO of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship), which has been a partner for 30 years with the Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Absorption in bringing thousands of immigrants from Ethiopia, participated in the reception as well.
“What an honor to stand next to the Prime Minister of Israel and greet hundreds of Jews from the once lost tribe of Dan in Ethiopia to their new home,” she said. “I love the fact that we have Israel. The fact that there is a Jewish government. The fact that the lost tribe has been found. And the fact that millions of Christians are part of the ingathering of the Jewish people through The Fellowship.”
The Fellowship raises millions of dollars annually to support aliyah, and since its founding in 1983 has helped more than 750,000 Jews from around the world come home to Israel. The organization is sponsoring a flight from Ethiopia in support of Operation “Tzur Israel” later in this month.