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Ethiopian immigration
The lost tapes of the Ethiopian immigration
During Passover cleaning, one of the original officials responsible for documenting the operation of secretly bringing Ethiopian Jews to Israel discovered two videos of raw material from the events.
Traditional cleaning for the holiday of Passover led me to an old cardboard box in a tucked away at home. "It's time to open it and get rid of what's inside," I thought to myself. But then, among all the papers and nonsense in the box, I found two old video tapes. On their covers was written "raw material" in my handwriting.

 

 

My curiosity got the best of me and what I found on the tapes was amazing.

 

Ethiopian immigration footage

סגורסגור

שליחה לחבר

 הקלידו את הקוד המוצג
תמונה חדשה

שלח
הסרטון נשלח לחברך

סגורסגור

הטמעת הסרטון באתר שלך

 קוד להטמעה:

 

 

The videos were from a dramatic period of seven years from 1984 to 1991 when I was involved in one of the most secret and amazing operations the State of Israel was ever involved in: bringing Ethiopian Jews to Israel.

 

When I learned of these operations at the time, it was obvious to me that I would insist on documenting them.

 

Ethiopian immigrants arriving in Ben Gurion
Ethiopian immigrants arriving in Ben Gurion

 

 

However, my request was only granted after a long process of seemingly endless debates. I eventually won out due to my reserve service position as being the person responsible for documenting special operations for the Air Force's Special Operations Division.

 

Other materials in my possession relating to the immigration of Ethiopian Jews had already been published, but the discovery of these two tapes surprised and excited me.

 

 

 

One of the Ethiopian Jews' escape routes to Jerusalem was through a secret agreement jointly facilitated with the United States and signed with Sudanese President Gaafar Nimeiry.

 

Nimeiry allowed a regular airlift from Khartoum via Europe to Ben Gurion International Airport, which took place in less than two months (from November 21, 1984 to January 5, 1985) on a regular basis—sometimes evening after evening and sometimes within two days.

 

 

 

Thus, our first encounters, documenting newly arrived immigrants from Ethiopia, took place at Ben-Gurion Airport. They usually happened in the dark, but occasionally even in daylight.

 

This usually happened with the arrival of a Boeing 707 aircraft with the Belgian airline logo, TEA, which was transported to a hidden runway. There, Mossad agents, representatives of the Jewish Agency, Ministry of Immigrant Absorption and others hid the passengers as much as possible until their arrival in Israel.

 

(Translated and edited by Fred Goldberg)

 

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