8,000 Jews in Ethiopia said that they would go on a hunger strike if their request for an immediate Aliyah is not granted. Meanwhile, hundreds gathered in Addis Ababa in a show of solidarity.

Ethiopian Jews in Israel

Ethiopian Jews in Israel Photo Credit: Hadas Parush/Flash90

8,000 Jews in Ethiopia stated Wednesday that they would begin a hunger strike if the Israeli government does not budget funds toward their Aliyah to Israel. A majority of these Jews have family members who have already made it to Israel, and many have been waiting over a decade for an opportunity to emigrate.

“Our family is in Israel,” Mals Sidisto told the Associated Press. “How many of our brothers and sisters who tried dangerous routes to meet their loved ones died along the way? We’ve had enough here, what have we done wrong that we must suffer here?”

Hundreds of Ethiopian Jews gathered in a synagogue in Addis Ababa as part of a solidarity movement. “All of us here in Ethiopia are in a foreign land; we are tortured and we starve,” said Sidisto.

In a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Ethiopian Jews wrote that they remain in Addis Ababa because they want to make Aliyah to Israel immediately and without preconditions. “We will never lose hope to make Aliyah to Israel. Dear Mr. Prime Minister, we want you to fulfill our wish and turn it into reality,” the letter read. “We ask this in the name of our God, the God of Israel.”

A video campaign to pressure the Israeli government into bringing more Ethiopian Jews to Israel began last week. In the video appears Yonatan, an Ethiopian Jew serving in the IDF’s ROTC program. “The state funds thousands of organizations that support the Aliyah of Jews from other countries, but for Ethiopian Jews, there’s no budget,” he says.