Israel evacuates 200 people from northern Ethiopia

The operation was prompted by recent fighting in the Amhara region

Israel flew more than 200 citizens and people eligible for citizenship from Ethiopia's Amhara region over concerns at renewed fighting. Photo: Israeli Foreign Ministry
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Israel has evacuated more than 200 Israelis and people eligible for citizenship from conflict areas in northern Ethiopia.

Most of the evacuees were taken from the northern city of Gondar on Thursday, while 30 were rescued from the nearby city of Bahir Dar, the Israeli Prime Minister's office said.

“The State of Israel looks after its citizens wherever they are,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.

“In recent days, Israeli citizens and people eligible for aliyah [citizenship] from Ethiopia became in distress in areas of combat. I directed that they be brought out of there.”

The evacuees were taken to the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, where they were given the choice to remain there or go to Israel.

Israel has a long history of evacuating Jews from unstable regions, a process that often involves complex and top-secret operations directed by intelligence agencies and the military.

The latest operation followed a warning last week by Israel’s Foreign Ministry to its citizens in the Amhara region, where both affected cities are, that they should stay in a secure location.

The warning followed Ethiopia’s government saying it had started to retake parts of the region from local militias.

A conflict between the country’s military and rebellious forces from the Tigray region ended in November, but many in the neighbouring Amhara region believe that the peace deal did not address their concerns.

Fighting broke out in the region last week, leading the Ethiopian government to declare a state of emergency there.

Updated: August 11, 2023, 10:25 AM