Ethiopian Jews on hunger strike for return

Sept. 22, 2005 at 12:21 PM
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ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, Sept. 22 (UPI) -- Hundreds of Ethiopian Jews camped outside Addis Ababa were on a hunger strike Thursday, hoping to expedite being taken to Israel.

The Falash Mura community, also known as the Beta Israel Jews, abandoned their homelands in the north Ethiopian highlands and settled in camps, The Independent reported.

In 1972, senior rabbis in Israel concluded that Ethiopian Jews were authentically Jewish, and should be allowed to move to Israel under the country's Law of Return. There are estimated to be 80,000 Ethiopian Jews in Israel.

Wednesday, the protest group leader Getnet Mengesha said too much time was being wasted.

"We have been kept in hope for all these years with a promise to be moved soon to the Holy Land," Mengesha said. "Israel is our place. We have been displaced for 2,000 years."

In January, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon decided that up to 20,000 more Falash Mura could move to Israel on humanitarian grounds by 2007, but the migration has been delayed by a series of bureaucratic and diplomatic obstacles, the report said.

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