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Israel creates high-level body to address Ethiopian needs

Ethiopian Israelis number around 160,000, almost 2% of the population.

Jewish Agency for Israel chairman of the executive Maj. Gen. (res.) Doron Almog (left) and Mark Wilf, chairman of the board of governors of the Jewish Agency, with new immigrants from Ethiopia arriving at Ben-Gurion International Airport on May 9, 2023. Photo by Maxim Dinshtein.
Jewish Agency for Israel chairman of the executive Maj. Gen. (res.) Doron Almog (left) and Mark Wilf, chairman of the board of governors of the Jewish Agency, with new immigrants from Ethiopia arriving at Ben-Gurion International Airport on May 9, 2023. Photo by Maxim Dinshtein.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Sunday the creation of a ministerial-level committee to address the needs of the country’s Ethiopian community.

“I am aware that there are additional challenges, but this committee is the tool to continue advancing our brothers and sisters from the Ethiopian community. I know that it will receive the cooperation of all ministries, as has been the case up until now,” said Netanyahu.

Earlier this month, the premier and other government leaders joined Israel’s Ethiopian community for a ceremony commemorating the thousands who died trying to reach the Jewish homeland.

The gathering paid tribute to the 4,000 members of Beta Israel who died, mainly of malnutrition and disease, between 1979 and 1990 while traveling by foot from Ethiopia to transit camps in neighboring Sudan.

At the event, Netanyahu praised changes in the educational curriculum expanding on the story of the Ethiopian exodus, and promised to boost housing, employment, education and health assistance.

Some 90,000 Ethiopian Jews came to Israel in a series of airlifts dating back to 1980. Today, Ethiopian Israelis number around 160,000, almost 2% of the country’s population.

On May 9, 111 new immigrants from Ethiopia landed in the Jewish state. IDF Maj. Gen. (res.) Doron Almog, the Jewish Agency’s chairman of the executive who led missions in the 1980s to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel, welcomed the new immigrants.

“The arrival of each plane of olim [immigrants] is an historic moment for the Jewish people,” he stated.

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