It’s the beginning of the end of Ethiopian aliyah, as 240 Ethiopians alight a plane to Israel Monday afternoon, the first of a series of flights dubbed Operation Dove’s Wings which will take place until the last one in March 2014, marking the end of the state of Israel’s rescue of the Falash Mura – Ethiopians with Jewish ancestry.
Many of today’s olim have been waiting in the refugee camp in Gondar province for years – as many as 10. Last July, amidst outcries from Israel’s Ethiopian community, Israel decided to conduct a last major endeavor to remove the last remaining Jews – and their descendants – from the African country.
The Jewish Agency’s Ibim Absorption Center near Sderot will house up to 600 new immigrants, with a budget of $3.1 million from the Jewish Agency and $1.4 million from the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who was scheduled to attend Monday’s event, cancelled his appearance, but Vice Premier Silvan Shalom will attend in his place along with other government officials, dignitaries and philanthropists.