316 out of 2,000 Ethiopian Jews make their home in Israel on Aliyah

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday greeted at Ben Gurion International Airport the first group of Ethiopian immigrants to arrive in the country within the framework of “Operation Tzur Israel” (“Rock of Israel”).

The 316 immigrants are among approximately 2,000 who are slated to make aliyah by the end of January as part of the operation, approved in Oct. 2019, to reunite them with their families in Israel, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

“I do not remember, for many years, when I have been moved so much at a sight of such refined Zionism that expresses all of its significance,” Netanyahu said at the ceremony in a tent on the tarmac. “My wife Sara and I stood here with tears in our eyes … when we saw the immigrants, our Jewish brothers and sisters from Ethiopia, leave the plane with baskets—like we remember, like I remember from my childhood—they alight and touch the ground, the land of Israel,” he added.

“The mother kisses the ground and carries an infant named Jerusalem, and another infant is named Esther. Esther and Jerusalem are coming to Jerusalem; this is the essence of the Jewish story. This is the essence of the Zionist story,” he said, adding, “Therefore, we, dear brothers and sisters of ours, immigrants from Ethiopia, we are so moved to welcome you here. Welcome to the land of Israel. Welcome to the State of Israel.”