Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife today participated in a reception ceremony for the first group of immigrants from Ethiopia as part of Operation Tzur Yisrael at Ben Gurion Airport.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said at the ceremony, "I don't recall being so excited for many years, from such a pure Zionist sight, which expresses all our meaning. My wife Sara and I stood there with tears in our eyes at the reception; when you see the immigrants, our Ethiopian Jewish brothers, get off the plane with baskets - as we remember, as I remember from my childhood - go down, touch the ground, the Land of Israel. The mother kisses the ground and carries a baby named Jerusalem, and another baby named Esther. Esther and Jerusalem, come to Jerusalem - this is the essence of the Jewish story, this is the essence of the Zionist story."
"Therefore, we, our dear brothers and sisters, Ethiopian immigrants, we are so excited to welcome you here, welcome to the Land of Israel, welcome to the State of Israel. You arrived on a direct flight from Gondar - parents and children. I've seen pictures of you holding pictures of your relatives here in the country, whom you long to see, and they long to see you - and now comes this wonderful family reunion. You waited a long time for the dream to come true, and today it is coming true," the Prime Minister noted.
Netanyahu added, "In the contacts I am having, together with the National Security Staff, with the Sudanese government, contacts for normalization and peace, I sought to allow the families to reach the sites in Sudan, where their loved ones perished. We're making progress in these moves."
"At the same time, I sent Deputy Internal Security Minister Gadi Yevarkan to Africa, both to promote these issues and other issues, and also to promote the return of our dear Abra Mengistu. We will not give up until we bring Abra and all our prisoners and missing home," Netanyahu concluded.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz spoke at the event and said, "Today we are realizing the Zionist vision in its purest sense - the Ingathering of the Exiles.
"You, who stand at the gates of this country, carry on your backs a wonderful tradition of thousands of years, and it is the duty of the State of Israel to provide you with optimal absorption and an equal opportunity to start your new life here. Despite the raging epidemic, it's very important that you come here now and that we learn the lessons from absorption in the past," he said.
Gantz added: "In recent weeks, I've conducted a security assessment of the dangers as a result of the situation in northern Ethiopia and its consequences for the other Falashmura members waiting to immigrate to Israel. We'll examine how to speed up bringing all those waiting, and if necessary, we'll also know how to evacuate them to a safe area."