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Israeli child faces deportation to Ethiopia after father’s death

TJI Pick
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Published: 5 May 2023

Last updated: 5 March 2024

After losing her Ethiopian-Israeli father, eight-year-old Geffen, who is an Israeli citizen, will be forcefully deported to Ethiopia with her mother.

Geffen loves to study maths and play with her friends. She is in second grade and has a captivating smile.

In July, after the school year comes to an end, Geffen is scheduled to leave Israel with her mother Maza, an Ethiopian citizen Israel wants to deport – even though her daughter is an Israeli citizen, because her father was too.

Geffen’s father, Natan Getahon, died in 2019 shortly after Geffen’s mother began the process for receiving legal residency status in Israel. The process was halted when Getahon died, and the humanitarian committee of the Population, Immigration and Border Authority in the Interior Ministry did not accept the mother’s request to remain in Israel with her daughter after the death of her husband.

“The damage that will be caused, as far as any will be caused, is small,” a Population and Immigration Authority representative told the appeal's tribunal in the Justice Ministry that reviews decisions made by the authority. Half of Geffen’s short life was spent in Ethiopia with her mother’s family, which raised her when she was an infant,  the representative said.

But Geffen also has a large family in Israel that warmly supports her and her mother, and who are prepared to fight to keep them in Israel.

“I’m shocked by the situation,” Atkacho (Aryeh) Getahon, Natan’s brother, told a judge on the appeals panel at a hearing held last year in Jerusalem concerning his sister-in-law’s deportation. “I ask myself, how are we treating this matter in general. The child has siblings, we are a family that lives together, I understand the state’s considerations, and I served the country. Now I feel they have shot me in the chest. They want to take my niece and throw her onto a remote island.”

After Father's Death, Ethiopian-Israeli Family Fights Deportation (Haaretz)

Photo: Maza and her daughter Geffen (Tomer Appelbaum)

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