Jewish Businessman Who Brought Thousands Of Ethiopian Jews To Israel Passes Away

Portrait of Belgian Jewish billionaire Georges Gutelman who helped carry out Operation Moses, airlifting thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel. June 12, 2014 (Photo by yaakov Naumi/Flash90)

TEL AVIV (VosIzNeias) — A Belgian Jewish businessman who used his company’s airplanes to secretly transport thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel has passed away. He was 81 years old.

The story of Georges Gutelman began in 1938 when he was born to Polish immigrant parents. He survived WWII by being hidden with a Catholic family in Belgium. His mother was sent to Auschwitz and never returned.

At the age of 25, Georges graduated from engineering studies in the University Of Liege in France.

After graduating and a trip to the United States, Georges developed an interest in the Air Travel industry. Together with a group of friends, they started out by renting airplanes and using them to organize trips. After trying this out several times, he started his own company in 1971, calling it Trans European Airways (TEA).

In 1984, Georges received a message from Efraim Halevy, a senior Mossad official at the time. He explained that the Mossad was attempting to bring over the Ethiopian Jews who suffered from famine during the winter of 1984-1985, but were finding their means insufficient. The Mossad wanted Georges’ help.

Georges joined Operation Moses without hesitation. Work began immediately. TEA airplanes were put to use and some 8,000 Ethiopian Jews were safely transported to Israel via Sudan and Belgium.

Georges Gutelman spent his last years with his family in Tel Aviv.

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