Disturbing News hitting Christians in Ethiopia has it that Israel has released an official statement banning an easy entry for Christians in Ethiopia as the Easter celebration gets closer.
This decision has been a big blow to the Christian religious leaders in Ethiopia.
Why Israel Is Banning Ethiopian Christians?
According to the Population and Immigration Authority of Israel, they believe those Ethiopian tourists will not return home after the Easter celebration.
They cited a particular reason being the ongoing civil war in their country. This war began in 2020 November. It has been known as the Tigray war.
Early this year an airstrike on a school in the town of Dedebit, in Ethiopia’s Tigray region killed dozens of people, and pictures became viral on social media.
This has diminished the reputation of Ethiopia —hence an excuse for giving them a strict entry into Israel for the celebration of Easter.
Sources say Channel 13 in Ethiopia revealed that tour companies in Ethiopia received a letter from Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority. The letter stated categorically that any Ethiopian traveler who wants to visit Israel will have to go through strict documentation by contacting the authority personally to receive permission to enter.
Despite Ethiopian tourists being treated this way, other tourists in different countries are not given this kind of strict measures for entry. It is said that on their part, tour companies can generally submit a group application for tourists traveling as a group.
Israel’s Population and Immigration Authority have defended their course by saying the policy leveled against tourists from Ethiopia who wants to take pilgrimage for the Easter celebration is necessary.
The Immigration Authority pinpointed that they have such a policy in place because in the past Ethiopian tourists left behind a bad record by overstaying in Israel.
The Jerusalem Post reported that, in response to the decision, the head of Israel’s Incoming Tour Operators Association, Yossi Fatal, wrote a letter to Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked that was quoted in detail by the Hebrew tourism media outlet Passport News in explaining that the decision by the authority effectively means:
“closing the gates of the State of Israel to tourists from Ethiopia, who want to come to pray in the holy places of Christianity” because the authority will not be able to handle the quantity of individual requests it will receive in time.
He said, “the State of Israel has an international responsibility when it comes to everything related to the freedom of religious worship at the holy sites of the three religions, which are located within the borders of Israel… This important principle, which concerns the sanctity and status of Israel as the guardian of the holy sites of several religions in the world, has been trampled on by insensitivity and is detrimental to Israel’s status and image in the world.”
Ethiopian religious leaders have filed their complaints to the Immigration Authority to address their concerns.
The decision has been condemned by other international bodies including some internal groups and people in Israel as “discriminatory.”
According to reports the Incoming Tour Operators Association leader in Isreal, Yossi Fatal has criticized the decision through a letter. Within his opposing letter, he said it is “severely discriminatory.”
Many Christians in Ethiopia have felt disappointed in Israel’s decision to take strict measures that will prevent many of them from entering the Holy City for such a prestigious event. Their plans and hopes of celebrating Easter over there have been shattered.