As violent clashes escalate between the Ethiopian Army and the FANO militia in the Amhara province, over 150 Israelis find themselves trapped in the Gondar region of Ethiopia. Israel’s Foreign Ministry is actively monitoring the situation and working to ensure the safety and evacuation options for its citizens and eligible immigrants.
The ministry is in direct contact with 160 Israelis and 54 individuals who are eligible to immigrate to Israel. These efforts are being coordinated even as Foreign Minister Eli Cohen receives updates while on a diplomatic visit to Moldova. The situation room at the Foreign Ministry maintains communication with Israelis and Jews in the conflict-ridden area, aiming to ensure their safety and exploring potential evacuation avenues.
Cohen expressed his commitment to resolving the situation promptly. “We are acting to find quick solutions to help all of the Israelis through diplomatic channels in Ethiopia and the international arena,” Cohen stated. “We will make every effort to ensure the wellbeing of all the Israelis and Jews who are trapped in the region.”
The situation grew dire after clashes erupted not only in Gondar but also in other cities and villages in the region. Among those caught in the crossfire, 13 Israeli travelers were successfully rescued by the PassportCard insurance company and Magnus International Search & Rescue on Monday. These organizations are closely monitoring the unstable situation to determine if further rescue operations can be undertaken or if it is safer for individuals to remain in designated secure areas.
Jews, Israelis, and the descendants of Jews are in danger in Ethiopia
A senior official within the Jewish community in Ethiopia conveyed the gravity of the situation. The official told The Jerusalem Post that the figures provided by the Foreign Ministry include those entitled to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return due to their Jewish lineage. However, there is a deep-seated belief within the community that everyone of Jewish descent should be included. Meanwhile, the ongoing conflict has led to immense fear among the community members, with some people afraid to leave their homes because of the fighting.
“Gondar, a city with a population of approximately 9,000 individuals from the Zera Yisrael (blood descendants of Jews who aren’t halachicly Jewish), has seen its airport shut down for a week due to the conflict. An Israeli government decision to bring in 3,000 immigrants to Israel unearthed 4,200 eligible candidates, with plans to allocate more resources for an increased number,” the official added.
The official also cited a need for swift action, stating that tens of groups of Ethiopian olim in Israel are planning a demonstration in Jerusalem on Sunday in front of the Prime Minister’s Office, demanding the immediate aliyah of all those who are eligible, in light of the war. “The demand is to [bring to Israel] all those who are waiting from the seed of Israel, which is close to 11,000 when Addis Ababa is also included.”
According to this source in the Ethiopian Jewish community, some 6,000 to 7,000 individuals within the region are deemed Jewish according to Halacha (Jewish Law), confirmed through matrilineal ancestry verification. Others in Israel dispute these stats.