MK Avraham Nagosa (Likud) has called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the incoming Interior Minister for the 20th Knesset to resume Ethiopian immigration to Israel (Aliyah) on Wednesday, after a petition was filed by a Givati Brigade soldier who fought in Operation Protective Edge in Gaza asking for Israel's help in approving the immigration of his youngest brother.
"It is painful and sad story, but there are hundreds more like them too - families of soldiers who also have family members behind," Nagosa stated in an interview with Arutz Sheva. "Some send half of their salary to the family in Ethiopia survive. I wrote a letter to the prime minister and the interior minister to put an end to the Jewish human tragedy this is, and to unite the families immediately."
The Israeli government decided in 2005 to make a final list of those eligible for aliyah, fearing that if they did not do so, an endless number of Ethiopian Christians would seek to escape their country by claiming Jewish ancestry. The Ethiopian government, too, expressed concern over a potential mass exodus of Ethiopian citizens to Israel.
But according to Nagosa, both problems can be solved in one final blow if the government implements legislation ratified five years ago.
"The Israeli government headed by Netanyahu issued a decision in 2010 to launch Operation Dove's Wings, which was supposed to put an end to this tragedy, and to immigrate the 6,000 Jews still remaining in Addis and Gondar," he explained.
"Now that we are celebrating Independence Day, we should remember that the rise of Ethiopian Jews is a glorious part of our history," he urged. "Let's conclude the Aliyah joyfully, and not leave them crying for generations."
"The tears flow in Ethiopia and here in Israel and they must be stopped."
As of now, Aliyah from Ethiopia is like making Aliyah from any other country - in individuals or small groups, but not in special mass-Aliyah operations.
Most Ethiopian Jews left for Israel in two major operations organized by the State of Israel: Operation Moses in 1984 and Operation Solomon in 1991. Many traveled hundreds of miles by foot before being airlifted by the Israeli government, escaping poverty and anti-Semitism in Ethiopia, and fulfilling their community's dream of returning to the Jewish homeland.
While those initial waves of Aliyah were from the Beta Israel community, which had preserved Jewish traditions and law (Halakha) over thousands of years, subsequent olim hailed from the "Falash Mura" community - descendants of Jews forcibly converted to Christianity in the 19th and early 20th centuries. As a result of their status, their Aliyah under the Right of Return for Jewish exiles has been a contentious issue, although most authorities accept they are descended from the Beta Israel.
Some 120,000 Ethiopian Jews and their descendants live in Israel today.