Israel Approves Evacuation of Thousands of Ethiopian Jews Amid Escalating Civil War

Jewish Agency chairman Isaac Herzog (center) and Minister of Aliyah and Integration Pnina Tamano-Shata welcome 119 Ethiopian immigrants to Israel, May 21, 2020. Photo: Shlomi Amsalem.

by Benjamin Kerstein

The Israeli government on Sunday approved a plan for the entry of thousands of Ethiopian Jews who have been waiting in refugee camps amid an ongoing civil war in the African nation, Israel’s public broadcaster Kan reported.

Formulated by Ethiopian-Israeli Minister of Immigration Pnina Tamano-Shata, the scheme would see some 3,000 refugees, including those with immediate family in Israel, airlifted out of Ethiopia as soon as possible, subject to Ministry of Health guidelines on the coronavirus pandemic.

The process of approving the plan began three weeks ago and gained momentum after demonstrations by Ethiopian-Israelis — many of whom have family members in the camps — advocating the emergency aliyah operation.

There is widespread concern for the safety of Ethiopian refugees, as the civil war reaches its apex and the central government becomes increasingly endangered, threatening to engulf the country in chaos. All sides in the conflict have been accused of perpetrating atrocities and possible war crimes.

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