A group of 130 Olim (new immigrants) from Ethiopia arrived in Israel on Wednesday, marking the end of the second phase of Operation Tzur Israel. These Olim were reunited with their families in Israel, often after a long separation.
The second phase of Operation Tzur Israel, which began in June 2022 in accordance with a decision by the Government of Israel, has brought 3,000 new Olim from Ethiopia, in addition to the 2,000 immigrants who arrived in the first phase of the operation. In total, 5,000 immigrants from Ethiopia have arrived so far, of which 70% are under the age of 35, half of them children and teenagers. As part of the operation, special programs were opened for optimal absorption of the Olim.
The first phase of Operation Tzur Israel was launched in December 2020, following the government's decision. The operation aimed to reunite those in Gondar and Addis Ababa who have first-degree relatives in Israel by allowing them to immigrate to Israel.
The Jewish Agency was tasked with implementing the operation and, as such, coordinated 18 special flights to bring the 5,000 Olim to Israel. The Jewish Agency worked closely with the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration, the Ministry of the Interior, the Population Authority, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Health to carry out the government’s plans. The efforts were also made possible with the help of Jewish Federations, Keren Hayesod, private donors and foundations, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, as well as friends of Israel from Korea and around the world.
The new Olim are immediately settled in 18 absorption centers across the country operated by the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration and The Jewish Agency, where they spend their initial period in Israel. In order to meet the demand of the influx of new Olim, The Jewish Agency and the Ministry opened five new absorption centers. When new Ethiopian immigrants arrive in Israel, they experience a “soft landing” by transitioning into their new lives at absorption centers, with the assistance of The Jewish Agency as well as the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration. The immigrants receive financial support and guidance, including Hebrew language education as well as preparation for integration into the employment market and the education system. The Jewish Agency operates a total of 25 absorption centers throughout Israel.
During the operation, the Ministry of Aliyah and Integration and The Jewish Agency developed special programs to optimize the absorption process. To that end, the organizations implemented a direct absorption model in Kiryat Gat, in cooperation with UJA-Federation of New York, whereby families were placed in rented apartments in the city. Also, the organizations launched the very first Aliyah Tech program, designed to enable young Olim from Ethiopia to integrate into the high-tech industry. They also established a special track for academic-minded Olim from Ethiopia together with other studious Olim from around the world at Ulpan Etzion in Jerusalem.
“By completing this milestone in Operation Tzur Israel, and continuing to facilitate the Aliyah and absorption of Ethiopians who have long yearned to arrive in the Jewish homeland, we have actualized the core value of the State of Israel and the Jewish people to advocate for the most vulnerable individuals among us,” said Mark Wilf, Chairman of the Board of Governors of The Jewish Agency. “Indeed, when Ethiopian Olim arrive in Israel, the immense emotion and significance of the moment is never taken for granted.”