March 27, 2007
(Reuters Africa) - Thousands of Ethiopians who say their Jewish roots entitle them to live in Israel are stuck in a squalid camp in Ethiopia, their dream of a promised land fading as Israel scrutinises their family ties.
The "Falasha Mura" are descendants of Ethiopian Jews who converted to Christianity, sometimes under duress, in the late 18th and 19th century.
Here is a short chronology of attempts to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel.
1973 - Status of Ethiopian Jews is formally decided by Israeli chief rabbis who determine they are descendants of the Jewish biblical tribe of Dan and entitled to immigrate.
1984 - Under tight military censorship, Israel brings 15,000 Ethiopians to the Jewish state in a secret airlift through Sudan known as Operation Moses.
1985 - Israeli magazine breaks censorship in interview with Israeli immigration official. The story appears worldwide. Sudan, a Muslim country, responds angrily to disclosure of its involvement, halting airlift.
1989 - Israel and Ethiopia restore diplomatic relations, bringing hope to those awaiting stranded relatives.
1990 - Under a family re-unification programme, then-President Mengistu Haile Mariam allows Jewish emigration but interrupts it several times. About 3,500 arrive in the year.
1991 - Planeloads of Ethiopians arrive several times a week with about 350 passengers each in what Israel dubbed "Operation Solomon". About 2,000 Ethiopian Jews arrive in Israel by February. In March, immigration stops abruptly.
-- In May, Mengistu flees to Zimbabwe. Israel airlifts out more than 15,000 Ethiopian Jews. Over 1991/1992 around 34,000 Ethiopian Jews arrive in Israel.
2003 - Ethiopia blocks a plan by Israel to move the Falasha Mura to Israel.
2004 - Following a visit by Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, Israel says it plans to start moving the remaining 20,000 Ethiopians of Jewish origin to Israel.
2005 - Prime Minister Ariel Sharon approves the decision to allow 700 Falasha Mura a month to fly to Israel.
-- In September, about 1,000 members of the Falasha Mura group begin a three-day hunger-strike in Addis Ababa to complain of delays in their promised transfer to Israel.
-- Ethiopia agrees to step up immigration to a monthly 600 people to Israel, double the previous number.
2007 - The Jewish Agency says that up to the end of 2008 about 6,300 Ethiopians will immigrate. Israel has said that there are now 110,000 Israelis of Ethiopian descent.