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Israel airlifts 450 Ethiopians in last operation to bring ancient community to Jewish state

Israeli authorities have completed what they say is the final large airlift of Ethiopian immigrants, ending decades of efforts to bring the remnants of an ancient community to the Jewish state.

Tali Aronsky, spokeswoman for the semi-official Jewish Agency, says 450 people arrived Wednesday. They are Falash Mura, a community whose ancestors converted from Judaism to Christianity under duress about 100 years ago, but managed to keep some Jewish customs.

Aronsky said the airlift caps a three-year operation that brought in 7,000 Falash Mura.

Thousands of Ethiopian Jews live in Israel. Many arrived in secret airlifts in 1984 and 1990.

Small numbers of Falash Mura remain behind in Ethiopia. Dozens of their relatives held a protest at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem Wednesday to demand Israel bring them over.