ICEJ to Assist Rescued Ethiopian Jews

By: David Parsons, ICEJ Vice President & Senior Spokesman

Recently, Israeli and Jewish Agency authorities swiftly rescued over 200 Israeli citizens from the raging conflict that erupted in Gondar in early August. Among them was a group of 61 Ethiopian Jews already deemed eligible to immigrate to Israel, and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) requested quick assistance from the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem with their Aliyah flights to Israel once their travel documents were arranged.

Heavy fighting had erupted between the national armed forces and a regional militia in the Amhara region in northern Ethiopia. The clashes engulfed the regional capital of Gondar, where thousands of Ethiopian Jews have been waiting upwards of two decades for their turn to make Aliyah and be reunited with close relatives already in Israel.

Israeli officials had been watching the rapidly unfolding events in Gondar, where several JAFI staff and volunteers work among the Ethiopian Jewish community to care for their needs and process those applying to join family members in Israel. The fierce street battles had forced everyone to remain in their homes, and the regional airport closed. Once the national army regained control of the city, the window opened to fly the Israeli volunteers, tourists, and eligible Ethiopian immigrants to safety in Addis Ababa.

When Doron Almog, a former IDF general and the new JAFI chairman, learned from JAFI workers in Gondor that “all the streets were blocked, there was no food, no supplies, no water or electricity, and all the Israelis and Ethiopian Jews in the city were terrified due to the deteriorating situation,” he consulted with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior Israeli leaders to coordinate an urgent rescue effort. “In the last few days, citizens of Israel and [persons] entitled to make Aliyah from Ethiopia entered into distress in the battle zones. I ordered them to be taken out of there,” Netanyahu said in an August 10, 2023, press statement.

Last Flight of Operation Tzur Israel–Phase II

Just a few weeks before the recent rescue effort in Gondor, Israel had declared an end to Phase II of the “Operation Tzur Israel” (“Rock of Israel”) airlift when a group of 130 Ethiopian Jewish immigrants landed at Ben Gurion Airport on an Aliyah flight sponsored by the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, among other donors.


The Tzur Israel airlift was first launched in December 2020. Across the two phases, the operation has brought over 5,000 Jewish immigrants from Ethiopia to reunite with close family already in Israel. The second phase of the airlift started in June 2022 and brought 3,113 of those Ethiopian Olim (newcomers), many of whom had not seen their families in Israel for over two decades.

This recent airlift resumed the Ethiopian Aliyah that began in 2015, with the commitment to bring another 9,000 members of the ancient Ethiopian Jewish community to Israel. Since that decision, the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) has brought 7,514 Jewish immigrants from the East African country home to the promised land, with the ICEJ sponsoring flights for 3,225 of these new arrivals. Operation Tzur Israel was launched to speed up Ethiopian Aliyah, as many families have been separated from close relatives who made it to Israel as far back as the 1980s.

“We thank the Christian Embassy for playing such a crucial role in the ‘Tzur Israel’ airlift of Ethiopian Jews over recent years and for being among the sponsors of today’s Aliyah flight,” said Danielle Mor of JAFI.

So far this year, the ICEJ has sponsored Aliyah flights for over 1,000 Jewish Olim from Ethiopia, Russia, Ukraine, and the Baltic states. Adding in our support for other Jews moving to Israel this year, we have helped over 4,000 Jews with Aliyah assistance in 2023, and many more are still to come.

Be a part of this prophetic ingathering of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel—give toward the
ICEJ’s urgent Aliyah efforts today!