Sudan’s New Government to Open Inquiry into ‘the Falasha Affair’

Sudan’s new military rulers today named a colonel in the now disbanded State Security Department as the man responsible for having permitted the departure by air of thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel.

The Military Council now ruling Sudan has said it will open an inquiry into “the Falasha affair” and will “severely punish” those responsible for the airlift used by thousands of Jewish refugees.

The Middle East News Agency (MENA) monitored in Paris today in a dispatch from Khartoum named the man deemed responsible for facilitating the flights as Col. El Fateh Mohamed Ahmed Arwa. Basing itself on a report issued by the trade union of the Sudanese Civil Aviation Department, the Egyptian news agency said Arwa granted special privileges to the Brussels-based Trans European Airways.

“The planes were not subjected to civil aviation laws and did not have to produce flight documents,” according to the report. Officials belonging to the Civil Aviation Authority or responsible for passport, customs and health formalities were barred from approaching the planes.

The trade union report is the first detailed account of the departure procedure. It says the Ethiopian Jews were taken in the early hours of the morning, between 1 and 3 a.m. when the airport was usually deserted, to the special area of the Khartoum air terminal normally reserved for pilgrims on their way to Saudi Arabia.

The planes which took them to Israel via Greece, Italy and Belgium, landed and took off during this brief time lapse. The report says there were 28 flights in all. Between November 20 and December 22 there was a departure every two days and between December 22 and January 4 the flights took place on a daily basis. The flights were subsequently halted after the airlift was prematurely disclosed.

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