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In a single day, Ethiopian immigrants make aliyah—and are thrust into a war zone
By Ben Sales
IBIM, Israel (JTA) – The explosion occurred close enough to Stesyahu Alema to shake his apartment, where he sat with his wife and two of his five children.
But he didn’t flinch. None of them did.
“There are a lot of people with me, so I don’t need to worry,” Alema told JTA. “I don’t worry.”
The Alemas were among 91 Ethiopian immigrants who arrived in Israel last week, just a day after Israel’s Operation Pillar of Defense began. The new olim immediately were sent to the Ibim immigrant absorption center, a former aliyah youth village run by the Jewish Agency for Israel about three miles from the Gaza border. Other immigrant absorption centers were full.
During a visit Sunday, two explosions rocked the area in the space of just a few minutes. The first, a rocket launched from Gaza into Israel, had prompted a warning siren, sending the Alema family into the reinforced room that doubled as their children’s bedroom. One of the Alema daughters slept through the echoing impact that followed.
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