Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has given the order for the evacuation of more than 200 people from the violence-stricken Amhara region in Ethiopia. The directive pertains to 204 Israeli citizens and Ethiopian Jews residing in the cities of Gondar and Bahir Dar. In a video statement released on Friday, Netanyahu stated that the evacuees have been transported on four specialized flights to Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, from where they will be flown to Israel. The Prime Minister warmly welcomed them, saying, “Welcome to the state of Israel.”
Gondar and Bahir Dar are among the six cities in the Amhara region that have been engulfed in fighting between government troops and local Fano militiamen. The conflict has caused numerous civilian casualties, prompting the Ethiopian government to declare a six-month state of emergency in Amhara.
The recent outbreak of violence in Amhara marks the country’s most severe security crisis since the civil war in the neighboring Tigray region ended in November. The unrest is said to have arisen due to the government’s decision in April to dismantle regional security forces across the country, leaving Amhara susceptible to attacks from neighboring regions.
Ethiopian Jews, also known as the Beta Israel community, have resided in the northern and northwestern regions of Ethiopia for centuries. However, many in this community have migrated to Israel in recent decades. Under Israel’s Law of Return, individuals with at least one Jewish grandparent are eligible to settle in Israel and acquire citizenship.
It is worth noting that Israel has previously conducted secretive rescue operations to evacuate Ethiopian Jews. During a civil war in 1991, Israel successfully evacuated approximately 15,000 Ethiopian Jews in less than 24 hours in an operation known as Operation Solomon. Subsequently, smaller evacuations have taken place in later years.
The evacuation of Israeli citizens and Ethiopian Jews from Amhara demonstrates Israel’s commitment to the safety and well-being of its citizens abroad. Netanyahu’s swift response underscores the importance his government places on protecting Israelis and ensuring their smooth repatriation during times of crisis.
The international community will be closely monitoring the developments in Ethiopia as the country grapples with ongoing violence and instability. In the meantime, Israel’s efforts to rescue and bring its citizens home serve as a testament to the strength of its commitment to its people, no matter where they are in the world.