Israel flag. Picture: THINKSTOCK

TEL AVIV - Israel this week completed the organised mass immigration of Ethiopian Jews, 65 years after the Jewish state was founded.

Two chartered flights with about 450 immigrants on board landed in Tel Aviv, the last of Operation Dove’s Wings, which brought to Israel thousands of Ethiopian Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity.

Senior officials and scores of journalists awaited the chartered flights at Ben Gurion International Airport as the new immigrants arrived to an emotional welcome ceremony.

Jewish Agency head Nathan Sharansky, who accompanied the immigrants on their fight, spoke of a "moving, historic moment".

According to the Jewish Agency, which is responsible for the immigration and integration of Jewish immigrants in Israel, 92,000 Ethiopian Jews have arrived in Israel since 1948 when Israel was established.

Known as Beta Israel, they lived independently as Jews in northern and northwestern Ethiopia since the days of the Bible and were discovered only in the 19th century by other Jewish communities in Europe and elsewhere.

Many of them were airlifted to Israel in large-scale campaigns, including Operation Mozes, in 1984 and 1985 when about 8,000 were brought to Israel, and Operation Solomon in 1991 when more than 14,000 arrived in a 34-hour period.

Operation Dove’s Wings — a mission to bring the Falash Mura, the Ethiopian Jews forced to convert to Christianity, to Israel — began three years ago after an Israeli government decision. In all, the Jewish Agency chartered 91 fights, bringing 7,000 Ethiopians to Israel as part of the operation.

The status of the Falash Mura had been under debate for decades in Israel. A Jewish Agency spokeswoman said some of the immigrants were immediately eligible for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return, which states that any Jew from the diaspora is entitled to live in the Jewish state.

But others would have to convert to Judaism first, she said.

"The state of Israel completed the immigration process of the oldest Jewish community amongst the Jewish people," Mr Sharansky said at the airport ceremony.

Absorption Minister Sofa Landver said: "You prayed and longed for Zion and Jerusalem, and here, today, on this afternoon, on this day, a vision becomes reality. This morning, you woke up there, in Ethiopia. Tonight, you will go to sleep at home, in Israel."