Ethiopia

In 1991 Ethiopia was a perilously unstable country. Civil war ensued and the Eritrean and Tigrean rebels joined forces to overthrow Mengistu. There was dangerous political destablisation and World Jewish organsiations were concerned about the well-being of the Ethiopian Jews.

‘Operation Solomon’ was born. A covert Israeli military operation to airlift Ethiopian Jews to Israel.  The operation was kept secret by miltary censorship.  In order to accommodate as many people as possible, ELAL airplanes were stripped of seats and up to 1,122 passengers were boarded on to a single plane. Many Ethiopians arrived with nothing more than a bag of clothes and some cooking utensils.

I was asked to photograph one of the final flights that left Ethiopia in 1992.  My journey began in the far reaching, remote villages of Gondar where the last remaining Ethiopian Jews lived. Over a period of weeks we lived together in their mud huts, as families prepared for their momentous journey to the ‘holyland’. 

As the only westerner to travel with them - from villages in Gondar to a modern day Israel, a very special bond was formed. Here are a selection of photographs from this incredible journey by these immensely proud, brave people.