Approximately 300 Ethiopian Jews from the Falash Mura community arrived on Thursday as the ninth and last stage of Operation Tzur Yisrael (Rock of Israel) that has brought a total of 2,000 home to Israel since December. The homecoming was subdued as the planned welcome ceremony was called off
The new olim (immigrants; literally ‘ascenders’)were greeted at Ben Gurion Airport by Immigration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata, the first Ethiopian-born woman to hold a Knesset seat, and Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog.
“This is a journey that is well underway, but far from complete,” Tamano-Shata said in a Jewish Agency statement. “Let’s use this moving moment to remember that we have a duty to put an end to this painful saga.”
Tamano-Shata came to Israel under similar circumstances, arriving at the age of three as part of Operation Moses that brought 6,000 Ethiopian Jews to the country from Sudan. The new immigrants were sent into quarantine as per Health Ministry guidelines.
Tamano-Shata canceled the welcome ceremony due to concerns that it would be used as a campaign showcase ahead of the March 23 elections.
“As the minister of immigration and absorption, who knows that these new immigrants suffered in Ethiopia for many years, I will not let them play games with my community,” she said.
There are believed to be 7,000-12,000 Ethiopian community members still waiting to come to Israel, many of whom live in the wartorn Tigray region. There are currently approximately 155,300 Ethiopian immigrants are living in Israel today. Of these, 67,800 were born in Israel.