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August 15, 2013 7:21 am

Jewish Agency Smuggles 17 Yemeni Jews into Israel

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A father and son are reunited at Ben Gurion Airport following an airlift that brought 17 Yemeni Jews to Israel, Aug. 14, 2013. Photo: Jewish Agency Facebook. –  As tensions run high and instability mounts in Yemen, the Jewish Agency for Israel on Wednesday orchestrated a complex covert mission, spanning two continents, to bring a group of 17 Yemenite Jews to Israel and unite several families that have been separated for the last two years.

Five of the 17 Yemenite Jews landed on Wednesday, while the remaining 12, who had been smuggled to Argentina two years ago by Satmar Hassidim, were flown from there to Israel to reunite with their families.

The Yemenite Jews were smuggled out of Argentina without notifying the Satmar group that had taken them in. The Jewish Agency, which coordinated the mission with several Israeli government agencies, reported that the complex operation had been prompted by concerns for the safety of Yemen’s tiny Jewish community, as extreme Muslim groups posed a constant threat.

The Satmar community opposes Zionism and aims to combat immigration to Israel. In recent years, its members have smuggled Jews out of Yemen and absorbed them in various communities across the globe.

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The new immigrants will now be absorbed at one of the Jewish Agency absorption centers in southern Israel.

Since 2009, when anti-Semitic threats began to mount in Yemen, Israel has absorbed a record of 150 Yemenite Jews. In December 2008, Jewish teacher Moshe Ya’ish al-Nahari was murdered by a Muslim Yemenite activist who demanded that his victim convert to Islam. In May 2012, Jewish community leader Aharon Zindani was stabbed to death in Sanaa.

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