Friday, March 15, 2013

Ethiopians demand compensation for perished loved ones

Ethiopians demand compensation for perished loved ones

Ethiopian groups petition High Court demanding reparation for lost family members who died en route to Israel; point to State negligence during aliyah operation as leading to 'tragedy'
By Aviel Magnezi
YNET - March 15, 2013

The State initiated the aliyah of Ethiopian Jews, and hence it must compensate families whose loved one's perished along the way, claim representatives of the Ethiopian community who filed a like minded High Court petition Thursday.

According to the petition, the aliyah of Ethiopian Jews in the beginning of the 80's, was undertaken under the auspices of the State of Israel and it is responsible for its sloppy execution. Hence, they argue, it should reimburse families for their losses, as well as offering support and assistance, "in wake of the harsh scars they carry with them as a result of the death of their loved ones on the way to Israel."

The Organization for the Memory of Jews who perished in Sudan on their Way to Zion, has filed a petition on the behalf of bereaved families, and demand that the State recognize the relatives of some 5,000 Ethiopians - who died in just such a manner- as "persons imprisoned for their Zionism, martyrs or those who perished on their way to Israel," a status promising State support.

The State already holds a formal annual memorial ceremony for the dead during Jerusalem Day, and in March 2007 it inaugurated a monument on Mount Herzl in their memory- however, according to the petitioners this is too little, too late.

The petition describes how between the years 1980-1984, "under the initiative and responsibility of the State of Israel" there began a massive influx of Ethiopian Jews who "for years yearned and dreamt of coming to Israel" to Sudan from Ethiopia en route to Israel.

In Sudan they waited in temporary transit camps and from November 1984 until January 1985 some 8,000 Jews of Ethiopian descent were brought to Israel as part of Operation Moses.

The operation was cut short after the clandestine aliyah operation vis-à-vis Sudan was exposed.

Only in 1991 was the aliyah from Ethiopia renewed as part of Operation Solomon, thus leading to the arrival of more than 14,000 Ethiopian Jews.

According to the petitioners, in the interval between these two periods, some 15,000 Jews who "trusted the State of Israel to lead them to safety" waited in the camps, but to no avail.

In the camps, "the Ethiopian Jews suffered harassment, rape and violent robberies; and they died from hunger, food poisoning or epidemics." Depositions from community members who lost their loved ones, as well as a list of all those who died has been attached to the petition.

"Those responsible have not internalized their responsibility for the failures that led to a tragedy for the Ethiopian Jewish community attempting to make it's dream (of coming to Israel) come true," the petition read.

"The tragedy is seared into the hearts of tens of thousands relatives and survivors in both Israel and Ethiopia." They noted that all other attempts to achieve State recognition bore no fruit, and hence they had no choice but resort to a High Court petition.

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