Operation Solomon, Ben Gurion Airport, Israel 1991
Operation Solomon, Ben Gurion Airport, Israel 1991Click to Enlarge
Jews have lived in Ethiopia for hundreds and hundreds of years. But in the 1970s and 1980s, life became very difficult for them. They were no longer safe. So, in 1984, the Israeli government organized a secret operation—known as Operation Moses—to bring Ethiopia’s Jews to Israel. In six short weeks, almost 8,000 Ethiopian Jews were rescued through the Sudan. It was a difficult journey, and many suffered or died along the way. When the operation ended, about 15,000 Jews still remained in Ethiopia.
In 1990, Israel and Ethiopia reached an agreement that would allow Ethiopia’s remaining Jews to move to Israel. But before anything could be done, rebel forces threatened to topple the Ethiopian government. So in May 1991, as the rebels seized control of Ethiopia’s capital, the Israeli government organized an unprecedented rescue operation, called Operation Solomon. Beginning on Friday, May 24, and continuing non-stop for a day and a half, 36 El-Al jumbo jets and military transport planes carried more than 14,000 Ethiopian Jews to freedom in Israel. The baby in this photograph was born en route to the Holy Land.