כוחות ה מורדים ב תיגראי אתיופיה
Rebel forces in Tigray
Photo: AFP
Families of Jews stranded in Ethiopia calling on government to bring their loved ones to Israel back in August 2021

Israeli families of Ethiopian Jews stranded in war-torn country demand action

Following escalation of fighting in Ethiopia, Israel set to discuss evacuation of local Falsh Mura community despite a recent NSC report, claiming any such attempt could cause political fallout and many of those trying to flee are not Jewish

Itamar Eichner, Sivan Hilaie |
Published: 11.08.21, 13:06
The Israeli families of some 10,000 Ethiopian Jews are calling for urgent action after it emerged the government is hesitant to launch an operation to rescue the Jewish community stranded in the African country after the fighting between government forces and Tigrayan rebels had escalated.
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  • As a result, members of the Falsh Mura community in the Ethiopian cities of Addis Ababa and Gondar find themselves amid the intense fighting unable to leave.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    מפגינים למען העלאת יהודי אתיופיה
    מפגינים למען העלאת יהודי אתיופיה
    Families of Jews stranded in Ethiopia calling on government to bring their loved ones to Israel back in August 2021
    (Photo: Amit Shabi)
    Following the backlash, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday announced that the government will hold an emergency meeting on the issue in the coming 24 hours.
    Bennett's announcement came several days after the Tigrayan rebels announced they have started collaborating with eight more rebel groups in order to take down the Ethiopian government, and are preparing to invade Ethiopia’s capital of Addis Ababa.
    "The rebels are slowly spreading everywhere, trying to see which of the young men looks strong to take to combat, be it by consent or force," said Gashau Aventa, who lives in Israel but her mother, sister and nephews remain in Gondar.
    "They took my nephew already, my sister doesn't know what to do," Aventa added.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    כוחות ה מורדים ב תיגראי אתיופיה
    כוחות ה מורדים ב תיגראי אתיופיה
    Rebel forces in Tigray
    (Photo: AFP)
    Another Israeli of Ethiopian descent Hani Taiya, whose mother, sisters and sons left Tigray to live in Addis Ababa, tells a similar story.
    "They don't leave the house. Every knock on the door scares them to death," she said. "A few days ago my sister's son was abducted... They later came to the family and demanded ransom or they would do something to him. Because they had nothing, I transferred 30,000 shekels to her so she could free him."
    Uri Perednik, the head of the "Struggle for the Aliyah of Ethiopian Jewry" NGO, said they have been receiving alarming reports from the areas where the Jewish communities live - primarily in Addis Ababa and Gondar.
    "A mass Aliyah operation from Ethiopia is an immediate necessity. The Israeli government must rescue those waiting in Addis Ababa and Gondar before a disaster occurs," he said.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    המלחמה בתיגראי
    המלחמה בתיגראי
    The war in Ethiopia's Tigray region
    (Photo: AP)
    Despite the clear and immediate danger, a recently reveled classified report by the National Security Council said that any attempt to rescue or open a dialogue on evacuating Falash Mura members to Israel is ill-advised as it could lead to political fallout with the Ethiopian authorities.
    Integration Minister Pnina Tamano Shata lambasted the document as an attempt to "torpedo the rescue of the rest of Ethiopian Jewry."
    "The document deserves to be thrown in Israel's historic trash bin. It is a shameful and disgraceful document that shames the role of the National Security Council… It is not clear under what authority the NSC wrote that some of those trying to leave for Israel are not Jewish,” she added.
    Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai also voiced his support for the continuation of Aliyah operations from Ethiopia.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    פנינה תמנו שטה
    פנינה תמנו שטה
    Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata
    (Photo: Yariv Katz)
    We have a moral and historical duty to care for all Jews around the world... Despite the conflicting voices on the subject of their Judaism, I believe that the security [of all Ethiopian Jews] must come first.”
    “Due to the obvious danger to their lives, we should prepare to bring them here as soon as possible,” said Shai.
    Prime Minister Bennett announced Sunday morning that a discussion on the issue will be held in the coming days.
    It was revealed on Sunday that Israel secretly detained dozens of Ethiopian citizens who made Aaliyah on the suspicion that they weren’t actually Jewish. The Population and Immigration Authority described the operation as a "planned conspiracy that exploited the system".

    I24NEWS contributed to this report
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