Israel Warns Against Travel to War-Torn Ethiopia

YERUSHALAYIM -
Smoke from fires billows at the scene of an airstrike in Mekele, the capital of the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia, scene of civil strife, Oct. 20. (AP Photo, File)

As the civil war in Ethiopia spread to near the capital Addis Ababa and a national state of emergency was declared, the Israeli foreign ministry on Thursday issued a travel warning for Israelis.

The ministry advised Israeli citizens to avoid any non-essential trips to the country in the current turmoil.

The ministry said that Israelis already in Ethiopia should “be extra vigilant and to remain updated about the progress of fighting in the country in general and the situation in the capital city in particular.”

“The Foreign Ministry recommends refraining from going to and/or staying in conflict zones, and [advises] listening to local instructions about curfew hours, gatherings and limits on movement,” it added.

The advisory recommended Israelis planning to visit Ethiopia to avoid any non-essential trips and said those currently there should consider leaving.

The ministry advised Israelis in Ethiopia “to be extra vigilant and to remain updated about the progress of fighting in the country in general and the situation in the capital city in particular.”

“The Foreign Ministry recommends refraining from going to and/or staying in conflict zones, and [advises] listening to local instructions about curfew hours, gatherings and limits on movement,” it added.

The advisory came as the fighting between the Ethiopian government and Tigrayan rebels has intensified following a year of war that has killed thousands and displaced millions.

Tigray forces seized key cities in recent days and linked up with another armed group, leading the government of Africa’s second-most populous country to declare a national state of emergency with sweeping detention powers.

On Wednesday, President Isaac Herzog urged the swift extraction of any remaining Ethiopian Jews waiting to immigrate to Israel from Ethiopia.

“The longings of the past are in large part the foundation of this holy day, but it is important that we not neglect for a moment our longings for the future,” Herzog said at a ceremony in Jerusalem marking the Ethiopian Jewish holiday of Sigd.

“Thousands are still waiting to make aliyah to Israel, and some of them are threatened and in a worrying situation. We must continue to act bring them over to Israel quickly.”

There are thought to be 7,000 to 12,000 Ethiopians waiting to move to Israel, many of whom live in the Tigray region, the heart of the conflict. Others, who left their villages years ago, eke out livings near Gondar and Addis Ababa, where the main Jewish communities are located.

AP contributed to this report.