Eighty-two members of the Falashmura denomination arrived in Israel
overnight Tuesday. Sixty-one more are expected to arrive on Wednesday.
"Mother is crying tears of joy; she is happy to finally be in Israel," the daughter of one of the olim told Ynet at the airport shortly after the flight landed. "We've stayed in touch all these years and always missed each other."
The new immigrants, who were greeted at Ben-Gurion Airport by Immigrant Absorption Minister Sofa Landver (Yisrael Beitenu) and Interior Minister Eli Shai (Shas), will stay at Jewish Agency absorption centers throughout the country.
Thousands of Falashmura currently residing
in the Gondar transit camp in Ethiopia are still awaiting permits to immigrate to Israel, this after the State promised last year to allow 3,000 immigrants into the Jewish state by September 2009.
About a week ago some 500 Ethiopian-Israelis demonstrated outside the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem and demanded that the government approve the Falashmura aliyah.
Some 600 Falashmura who have already obtained their immigration permits are expected to arrive in Israel during the course of the next few months.
Eli Cohen, Director General of the Jewish Agency's Department for Aliyah and Absorption, estimated that thousands of Falashmura will be granted immigration permits in the coming year.
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky, who is in favor of bringing the Falashmura to Israel, said the agency was prepared to provide them with all the necessary services.