One hundred and fifty new immigrants from Ethiopia landed at Ben-Gurion Airport on Monday as part of Operation Tzur Israel, in cooperation with the Aliyah and Integration Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the Jewish Agency and the Fellowship.
Molokan (55) and Estabel (50), who landed with the special flight, waited in Gondar to immigrate to Israel for about 20 years. They stayed there with their children aged 23, 15, 11 and 4. Molokan, who was waiting to be reunited with his father and brother in Israel said before he took off on the special flight "We didn't think we would wait that long. Our brothers made aliyah 11 years ago and we stayed in Ethiopia. We went through the whole aliyah process with them but ours just stopped."
Molokan shared a bit about the difficult life in Gondar. "It is difficult to build a life here in Gondar. For us, we are temporary in Gondar and do not belong to it because we have been waiting to immigrate to Israel."
"It is difficult to build a life here in Gondar. For us, we are temporary in Gondar and do not belong to it because we have been waiting to immigrate to Israel."Molokan
Excited for Israel
When Molokan talks about Israel, she is excited: "This is a very great privilege. We have been waiting for many years to make aliyah and do not believe that this is happening. The first place I would like to see is Jerusalem."
Estabel is excited for her immigration to Israel. "My parents live in Tel Aviv. I have not seen them for 18 years. I am looking forward to meeting them again," she said before boarding the flight to Israel.
Most of the immigrants are young; between the ages of 21 to 35. Operation Tzur Israel has been renewed by virtue of a government decision in November 2021 led by Aliyah and Integration Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata. In the upcoming months, 3,000 additional family members of Israeli-Ethiopians will immigrate as part of this operation. In the first phase of Operation Tzur Israel, 2,000 new immigrants immigrated to Israel.
The new immigrants will be transferred to five absorption centers. In order to adapt quickly to the new immigrants, the ministry prepared extensive absorption programs, such as Hebrew studies, vocational guidance and medical assistance.
"It is a great privilege for me to lead a government decision that unites divided families between two continents for decades," said Tamano-Shata. She thanked the Fellowship, the Jewish Agency "and of course to the employees of my office at the Aliyah and Integration Ministry." According to the minister, "thousands more [olim from Ethiopia] are expected to arrive soon."
"The Jewish Agency will continue to lead operations on immigration from any point and for all Jews wishing to immigrate to Israel," said Yaakov Hagoel, chairman of the World Zionist Organization and acting chairman of the Jewish Agency. "Thank you very much to all our partners."
President of the Fellowship Yael Eckstein, who joined the flight. said that "we are proud to continue bringing hundreds of immigrants to Israel and are happy to take part in the immigration of Ethiopian Jews, who expect to come to their homeland for many years."