A former Beta Israel village outside Gondar, Ethiopia, July 6, 2019. (Photo/Andrew Esensten)
A former Beta Israel village outside Gondar, Ethiopia, July 6, 2019. (Photo/Andrew Esensten)

Israel evacuates more than 200 Ethiopians from conflict region

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(JTA) — Israel said it has evacuated more than 200 people from a northern province of Ethiopia where a militia is fighting government forces.

The evacuees include 174 people from the city of Gondar in the Amhara province, which has historically been a gathering spot for people waiting for authorization to move to Israel. That group included both Israeli citizens and those eligible to immigrate to the country.

Another 30 Israelis were evacuated from Bahir Dar, Amhara’s capital. The evacuees were all flown to the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, and some continued on to Israel.

Around 150,000 Ethiopian Jews live in Israel, many involved in or descendants of those airlifted from Ethiopia in the 1980s and ‘90s. Thousands more remain in Ethiopia who would like to immigrate to Israel.

“The State of Israel looks after its citizens wherever they are,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement. “In recent days, Israeli citizens and people eligible for aliyah [immigration] from Ethiopia became in distress in areas of combat. I directed that they be brought out of there.”

Netanyahu’s announcement came a day after an Ethiopian-Israeli advocacy group announced that it would protest outside his home on behalf of the at-risk Ethiopian Jews, according to the Times of Israel.

Ethiopian troops are fighting a militia in Amhara, and the government declared a state of emergency there last week. This conflict comes after Ethiopia ended a civil war last November in a truce with rebels.

Ben Sales
Ben Sales

Ben Sales is news editor of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.