Israel ends airlifts of Ethiopian Jews (PHOTOS)


A young Jewish immigrant after arriving on a flight from Ethiopia at Ben Gurion airport on Aug. 28, 2013.


Ilia Yefimovich

Israel has ended its 30-year initiative of airlifting Jewish immigrants from Ethiopia to Israel.

The final two planeloads of 450 Ethiopians arrived Wednesday at Ben Gurion International Airport.

Israel has brought Ethiopian Jews who were pressured to convert to Christianity in the 19th and 20th centuries, a group known as the Falashmura, to the country in three waves: Operation Moses in 1984, Operation Solomon in 1992 and Operation Dove’s Wings, which began in Oct. 2012.

About 97,000 Ethiopians have been airlifted to Israel under the program, with 7,000 Falashmura arriving in the last year.

Ethiopian Israelis demonstrated outside the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem to protest the end of the immigration project, claiming that hundreds of Ethiopians with relatives in Israel remain in Ethiopia.

Earlier this year, Israel's state comptroller issued a damning report criticizing officials for failing to properly invest in the integration of Ethiopian Jews into Israeli society, the Los Angeles Times reported. Many Ethiopian Israelis drop out of school and hold menial jobs.

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