Members of the Ethiopian community in Israel have alleged on Wednesday that they were forced to bribe government officials to speed up the process of bringing their loved ones still in Ethiopia to the Jewish state.
Their testimony – which includes the name of a Jewish Agency employee accused of involvement in the affair – was first brought to the attention of attorney Eyal Palatak, Channel 2 reports.
Palatak sent an official complaint on the matter to the Attorney General, who in turn placed State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan in charge of investigating the allegations.
"I am involved in the aliyah process of Ethiopian Jews, and as part of my involvement in this, I heard sad personal stories about governmental corruption connected to this aliyah," Palatak wrote to the Attorney General.
"This corruption is reflected in, among other things, payment to Israeli representatives in both Israel and Ethiopia in order to expedite the arrival of these Jews to Israel."
According to Palatak, the Ethiopian immigrants who were forced to pay money to bring their relatives to Israel want to expose the truth, despite the danger of being charged with a crime.
"To expose these difficult stories and to convince people who had to pay to testify on the subject, these should be granted protection and immunity," Palatak argued. "If given protection, it will be easier to reveal these stories."
"This is high-level corruption from employees in the establishment, while senior officials closed their eyes," Palatak charged. "I expect the prosecution to conduct a full investigation to arrive at the truth."