Photo Credit: Donald M. Robinson
Kessim (religious leaders) mark the opening of a synagogue in the village of Gomenge, Ethopia, one of five built in Gondar with JDC aid, 1988 Courtesy of American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, New York.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry’s Department for Israelis in Distress said in a statement late Tuesday night that an Israeli citizen has been kidnapped during a visit to the Gondar region in northern Ethiopia.

Israeli officials said they had received word of the abduction on Monday, but did not disclose the victim’s identity.


“The Department for Israelis Abroad is in contact with his family members in Israel and is working with Interpol on the matter,” the statement said.

“The Israeli consul in Ethiopia is in contact with local security officials in order to obtain the safe release of the Israeli citizen without delay,” it added.

Gondar was the home of the Beta Israel for centuries.

The Beta Israel, who believe they are descended from the lost tribe of Dan, are descended from Jews and continued to practice the faith of their ancestors through the centuries without a break.

They originally settled in the Northern part of Ethiopia, particularly in the Simien mountains, and around Lake Tana, but when the capital moved to Gondar in 1636, new employment opportunities drew the Beta Israel Gondar, where they remained despite the increasing difficulty they faced due to famines and conflict.

The Beta Israel were recognized by the government of the State of Israel and as such were eligible for aliyah under the Law of Return. Many were brought to Israel in two main airlifts: 1984 (Operation Moses) and 1991 (Operation Solomon).

Those who remain and still live for the most part in Gondar are descendants of the Zera Israel, or Falash Mura whose ancestors converted to Christianity under duress and as a result of this clouded past were disqualified from aliyah under the Law of Return.


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.