A group of 119 olim from strife-ridden Armenia landed in Israel recently after a 30-hour ordeal born of bureaucracy and fuel shortages.
Many of the immigrants had been living in battle zones, and their mini-exodus represented a humanitarian success for the Jewish Agency.
Fighting erupted between Armenia and neighboring Azerbaijan in 1992, following the breakup of the former Soviet Union. Each country claimed possession of Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave in Azerbaijan that has a majority population of ethnic Armenians. Twenty-three Jews from Georgia, which has been in a state of civil war since 1991, joined the flight when the plane made a stopover in Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital.
The same day, another 73 Georgian immigrants arrived on a separate flight from Tbilisi.
The arduous flight, marked by long delays and an unexpected detour, resulted in large part from fuel shortages in Armenia and Georgia.
Jewish Agency officials accompanying the olim literally had to scavenge for fuel among the planes parked on the tarmac at Tbilisi.