A Round Up of News of the Ethiopian Civil War and its Effect on Ethiopia’s Jews

Note: the Jewish communities of Ethiopia are centered in Gondar (about 10,000) and in Addis Ababa (about 4000). Gondar (indicated by the red arrow) is in Amhara Region bordered by the rebelling Tigray region to the north and by Sudan to the west.

The situation is becoming increasingly desperate for Ethiopian Jews, particularly in Gondar. Please donate today through our links to NACOEJ or SSEJ.

November 17, 2020: The NY Times reports that support teams appealed to the Ethiopian authorities to safe entry for them to the Tigray area to allow them to replenish dwindling provisions for individuals stranded by the combat. At refugee camps in Tigray, gasoline is perilously low, a significant concern as a result of the camps depend on mills to pump water.

November 17, 2020: The Times of Israel reported that nine Israelis were rescued from the Ethiopian war zone. The Israeli Foreign Ministry said its officials coordinated safe exit of five Israeli irrigation workers and four humanitarian volunteers from Tigray. Five were extracted by the Ethiopian army. The other four were driven out in a UN rescue convoy. [Times of Israel]

November 16, 2020: Long-simmering tensions between Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government in Addis Ababa and leaders from the country’s northern Tigray region have spilled into the open. Tigrayan forces and the national military have clashed, and Amnesty International recorded evidence of an alleged massacre of civilians. Hundreds of people have been reported dead. Tens of thousands have fled as refugees to neighboring Sudan.

Babar Baloch, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said the agency now views the situation as a “full-scale humanitarian crisis.” [Washington Post]

November 16, 2020: Tensions between Ethiopia’s federal government and defiant authorities in its northern Tigray region erupted into military confrontation on Nov. 4 after the country’s prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, accused the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, or TPLF, of attacking a military base, killing soldiers and stealing artillery and military equipment. Hundreds of people have since been killed in a war that has now spilled into the wider Horn of Africa region after Tigrayan state militias fired rockets at targets in the capital of neighboring Eritrea over the weekend. [Wall Street Journal (pay wall)]

November 16, 2020: Ethiopian fighting claimed its first victim from Gondar’s Jewish community. Girmew Gete 36 was killed in the border area between Tigray and Amhara.

Gete had been waiting with his family to immigrate to Israel for 24 years and is survived by his partner and their four-year-old daughter. [Times of Israel]

November 17, 2020: Gete’s death prompted calls from supporters of Ethiopian Aliyah for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to immediately airlift the community to Israel. [Times of Israel]

November 15, 2020: U.S. assistant secretary of state on African affairs, tweeted that Washington “strongly condemns the TPLF’s unjustifiable attacks against Eritrea on November 14 and its efforts to internationalize the conflict in Tigray.”

November 14, 2020: Rockets hit the airport in Gondar and partially damaged it late on Friday [India Times]

November 12, 2020: Bombardment, troop movements dash hopes of a quick end to conflict between Ethiopia’s government and a restive regional government. [Wall Street Journal (pay wall)]

October 10, 2020: Netanyahu: Israel to airlift 2,000 Ethiopian Jews [Associated Press via WTOP News]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told his Ethiopian counterpart that his country has the intention to “immediately” bring over some 2,000 Ethiopian Jews.

“I updated Prime Minister Abiy [PM of Ethiopia] that I intend to immediately bring some 2,000 people from Addis Ababa and Gondar, as part of our commitment to continuing the Aliyah of Jews to Israel.

Over the years, Netanyahu has pledged to bring to Israel the remainder of Ethiopia’s Jewish community.

Activists say Israel’s government in 2015 pledged to bring the remaining Ethiopian Jews to Israel. [Daily Sabah, a Turkish pro-government daily]

In 1991, while Ethiopia was in the midst of civil war, Israel carried out the dramatic Operation Solomon, airlifting out some 14,500 Ethiopian Jews out of the country in less than two days.

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