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11 Aug, 2023 20:31

Israel announces evacuations from Ethiopia

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the rescues of Israeli citizens and Ethiopian Jews amid escalating violence
Israel announces evacuations from Ethiopia

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered his government to evacuate more than 200 people from the violence-plagued Amhara region of Ethiopia.

The order concerns 204 Israeli citizens and Ethiopian Jews in the northern cities of Gondar and Bahir Dar, according to a video statement by Netanyahu on Friday. He said the evacuees were transported on four special flights to Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, and would be flown from there to Israel. “We will receive them here with warmth and welcome,” he added. “Welcome to the state of Israel.”

Gondar and Bahir Dar, the regional capital, are among six cities in Amhara that have been wracked by fighting between government troops and local Fano militiamen. There have reportedly been a large number of civilian casualties. The Ethiopian government declared a six-month state of emergency in Amhara last week.

The fighting broke out earlier this month, creating Ethiopia’s biggest security crisis since a civil war ended in the neighboring Tigray region in November. The unrest reportedly stems from the government’s decision in April to dismantle regional security forces across the country, a move that could leave Amhara vulnerable to attack from neighboring regions.

Ethiopian Jews, known as the Beta Israel, have lived in northern and northwestern regions of the East African country for centuries. Much of that community has migrated to Israel in recent decades. People with one or more Jewish grandparents are able to settle in Israel and obtain citizenship under the country’s Law of Return.

Israel pulled off a secret rescue of about 15,000 Ethiopian Jews in less than 24 hours during a civil war in 1991. The so-called Operation Solomon was followed by smaller evacuations in later years.