Some 450 new immigrants from Ethiopia boarded two Jewish Agency-chartered flights bound for Israel on Wednesday, August 28. Since 2010, thousands of Ethiopians have immigrated to Israel as part of Operation Dove’s Wings. The two flights brought this historic effort to a dramatic close. The new immigrants’ relatives were on hand in Israel to greet them. Upon the flights’ arrival at Ben Gurion Airport, there was a welcome ceremony webcast live at 5:00 a.m. EDT on The Jewish Agency’s website. A recording of the webcast will remain on The Jewish Agency’s website for later viewing and sharing.
Operation Dove’s Wings began in November 2010 with the Government of Israel (GOI)’s decision to bring 8,000 Falash Mura in Gondar to Israel. The GOI tapped The Jewish Agency to prepare those eligible for entry to Israel and to facilitate their Aliyah in concert with immigration eligibility standards regulated by Israel’s Ministry of the Interior and in preparation for their resettlement in Israel by the Ministry of Absorption. Since Dove’s Wings’ inception, The Jewish Agency brought 7,000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel, the majority of whom are members of the Falash Mura community, and several hundred of whom were eligible for Aliyah through Israel’s Law of Return.
To prepare these olim (immigrants) for a successful life in Israel, The Jewish Agency for Israel has run a community center in Gondar, Ethiopia for the past three years and with the support of IFCJ and JFNA. This center has provided a wide range of educational and social services. Upon their repatriation in Israel, The Jewish Agency housed these new immigrants in 17 absorption centers throughout the country that are run by The Agency and Israel’s Absorption Ministry.
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky shared that “This is a moving historical moment, and upon the completion of operation Dove’s Wings, we have come full circle with what started three thousand years ago.”
Since 1948, with the founding of Israel, 90,000 Ethiopian Jews have immigrated to Israel. Sharansky thanked The Agency’s global and Israeli partners for their sustained support to bring these olim to Israel and to facilitate their absorption there. He added that “The Jewish Agency will continue to assist any Ethiopians deemed eligible for Aliyah by Israel’s Interior Ministry, as we do for Jews worldwide.”
Minister of Absorption Sofa Landver said, “Three years after I advised the Prime Minister of Israel to bring Operation Dove’s Wings to an end, to close the compound in Gondar and to complete the journey of organized Aliyah from Ethiopia, I am proud to take part in this historic event. I wish to thank all our partners and promise that the Government of Israel will do everything in its power to resettle these new immigrants in the best way possible.”