Operation Solomon

From Academic Kids

Operation Solomon is the name given to the 1991 evacuation of Ethiopian Jews to Israel.

In 1990, Ethiopia and Israel came to an agreement under which Beta Israel (Ethiopian Jews) would be allowed to leave under the auspices of family reunification. As word spread, thousands began leaving Gonder for Addis Ababa. The Ethiopian government enacted quotas based on time spent in Sudan, in Addis Ababa, ill-health, age, position within the community and other similar factors.

In 1991, the political and economic situation in Ethiopia had deteriorated as Eritrean and Tigrean rebels mounted increasingly successful offensives against the regime of Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam. In May, rebels took control of Addis Ababa and Mariam fled. In late 1990, worried about what might happen to Ethiopian Jews during a political transition period, aliyah and aid workers, the Jewish Agency, Israeli government and Israel Defense Forces had already made covert preparations to airlift and absorb Ethiopian Jews. On Friday May 24, as the rebels closed in, Operation Solomon began.

Over the course of 36 hours, a total of 34 El Al C-130 Hercules - with their seats removed to maximize passenger capacity - flew non-stop. 14,325 Ethiopian Jews came to Israel, to be greeted by thousands of Israelis who gathered at temporary absorption centers, hotels and hostels to welcome the new arrivals. Operation Solomon saw the transport of more Ethiopian Jews than in Operation Moses and Operation Joshua put together.

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