Thousands Attend Memorial for Ethiopians Who Died on Way to Israel

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israelis of Ethiopian descent attend a memorial ceremony commemorating Ethiopian Jews who died during their immigration to Israel, at Mount Herzl in Yerushalayim on Sunday. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)
Israelis of Ethiopian descent attend a memorial ceremony commemorating Ethiopian Jews who died during their immigration to Israel, at Mount Herzl in Yerushalayim on Sunday. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)

An estimated 3,000 people gathered in Yerushalayim on Sunday for the annual ceremony memorializing Jews who died on the way to Israel from Ethiopia.

Between 1984 and 1985 roughly half of those who attempted the perilous trek from Ethiopia through Sudan never reached their destination. Of some 8,000 who left for Israel, 4,000 reportedly perished on the way.

In 2007, a monument was erected on Mount Herzl to commemorate the fallen, and in 2011 the Knesset passed a resolution making the memorial an annual event that is held on Yerushalayim Day.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin addressed the crowd, both noting the sacrifices made to come to Israel, and the difficulties that many from Ethiopa continue to face in Israeli society.