Hours before Ethiopia officially closed its land borders to prevent further coronavirus spread, a group of 14 Ethiopian families — totaling 72 new immigrants — landed at Ben-Gurion Airport before dawn on March 24. Their arrival comes a week after the Israeli government had initially postponed the naturalization of a total of 250 Ethiopians whose immigration was promised prior to the March 2 national elections.

An Aliyah and Absorption Ministry spokesperson said in an email last week that the Prime Minister’s Office had nixed flights due to the coronavirus crisis. The government reversed that decision this week and in a written statement announced that anyone holding a valid immigration visa was permitted to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return.

Hours before Ethiopia officially closed its land borders to prevent further coronavirus spread, a group of 14 Ethiopian families — totaling 72 new immigrants — landed at Ben-Gurion Airport before dawn on March 24. Their arrival comes a week after the Israeli government had initially postponed the naturalization of a total of 250 Ethiopians whose immigration was promised prior to the March 2 national elections.

An Aliyah and Absorption Ministry spokesperson said in an email last week that the Prime Minister’s Office had nixed flights due to the coronavirus crisis. The government reversed that decision this week and in a written statement announced that anyone holding a valid immigration visa was permitted to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return.

“I was very sad last week when they stopped the aliyah [immigration],” said former Knesset member Avraham Neguise, who advocates on behalf of Ethiopian Israelis. “I am very happy for the immigrants, who are fulfilling their dream of many years, and for their families, who are waiting to see them.”

Despite his satisfaction with seeing the first arrivals, Ethiopia-born Neguise, who served as chair of the Knesset’s Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs committee from 2015 to 2019, protested the fact that the latest airlift did not include anyone over the age of 60.

“I am glad the [Israeli government] ministers changed their mind and renewed the immigration from Ethiopia,” Neguise told The Times of Israel by phone. “However, my joy is not complete because of the policy of discriminating against those who are age 60 or above who were left behind.”

“I was very sad last week when they stopped the aliyah [immigration],” said former Knesset member Avraham Neguise, who advocates on behalf of Ethiopian Israelis. “I am very happy for the immigrants, who are fulfilling their dream of many years, and for their families, who are waiting to see them.” CLICK on here to read more from the Times of Israel.

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