President Reuven Rivlin will pay a one day state visit to Cyprus on Tuesday as the guest of President Nicos Anastasiades.
Rivlin will leave from Tel Aviv on an early morning flight for the short journey, and on arrival in Cyprus will be welcomed at a state reception at the Presidential Palace, after which he will have a working meeting with Anastasiades, who will later host a state luncheon in Rivlin’s honor.
In the afternoon Rivlin will visit the British Military Hospital to mark the 70th anniversary of the closing of the prison camps which housed the illegal immigrants, most of who were Holocaust survivors, who were turned away by British Mandate authorities as they approached the shores of what was then Palestine.
The British established detention camps in Cyprus where from 1946-1949 they interned the would-be immigrants to the Jewish homeland. At the height of illegal immigration, known in Hebrew as Aliya Bet, there were nine such camps in Cyprus, in which some 2,000 Jewish babies were born.
There were several escape attempts by inmates who were aided by members of the local community. Like the refugees, and the Jews living in Palestine under British rule, the Cypriots had no great love for the British, and were only too happy to befriend and help the people who had set out with hope from displaced persons camps in Europe only to be denied entry to the Promised Land.
Some of the babies born in Cyprus, who are now Israeli citizens in their early seventies, have been invited to be in Cyprus on Tuesday to close the circle of shared history.
There is a very active organization of ‘Cyprus babies’ in Israel.
Rivlin is due to return to Israel in the early evening.