A hundred and eighty-one new Israeli citizens — from months-old babies to octogenarians — have landed at Ben Gurion Airport from Ethiopia, kicking off the restart of immigration flights from the civil war-torn nation after more than a year.
A second flight tomorrow, also from Addis Ababa, is scheduled to bring a further 160 new immigrants, making up the first round of a series of planned airlifts that together are eventually slated to bring 3,000 new immigrants from Ethiopia to Israel.
Today’s flight is the first immigration flight from Ethiopia since March 2021, when Israel marked the completion of the first half of Operation Tzur Yisrael (Rock of Israel), which brought around 2,000 new immigrants. Approved by a government decision in November, this wave — which is being considered the second half of Operation Tzur Yisrael — is slated to be completed by November, say Jewish Agency officials.
The immigration process was held up after the right-wing Israeli Immigration Policy Center filed an appeal against it with the High Court, which froze the measure as it deliberated. In March, the High Court rejected the petition, paving the way for the immigrants to begin to arrive.
The vast majority of the immigrants landing today and tomorrow have first-degree family members in Israel. They will all move to absorption centers across Israel where they will begin months of Hebrew language courses and a conversion process mandated by the state rabbinate.
The immigration drive has been pushed heavily by Immigration and Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata — herself an immigrant from Ethiopia — who was aboard today’s flight from Addis Ababa to Tel Aviv.