Thousands of Ethiopian Jews say they will embark on hunger strike if Israel carries out its plan to cut funding to help them immigrate to reunite with their families in the middle east country, Associated Press reports.
Hundreds representing ober 8,000 Jews in Ethiopia gathered at a synagogue in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, on Wednesday to make the threat.
Jews in the East African nation are said to have family members already in Israel.
Activists say Israel’s government in 2015 pledged to bring the remaining Ethiopian Jews to Israel. In 1991 with Ethiopia in civil war, Israel carried out the dramatic Operation Solomon, successfully airlifting out some 14,500 Ethiopian Jews in less than two days.
“All of us here in Ethiopia are in a foreign land and suffering from acute poverty and hunger,” said Meles Sidisto, the community head of Ethiopian Jews in Addis Ababa. “Most of our family members are in Israel. Several of our brothers and sisters who took dangerous routes to meet their relatives in Israel have died during their journey.”
He said Addis Ababa’s community of Ethiopian Jews, which numbers around 800 households, will hold a hunger strike if the Israeli government doesn’t hear their plea.
“We have had enough here. What have we done wrong to suffer this much?” he said, bursting into tears and prompting others to cry out. Several people carried photos of their loved ones who are already in Israel.
In a letter addressed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Ethiopian Jews in Addis Ababa said they want to immediately and without any preconditions go to Israel and join family members.
“We will never lose hope in going to Israel because we are winner people,” the letter says. “Dear Mr. Prime Minister, we want you to make our wish a reality. We ask you this in the name of Our God, Israel’s God.”