Israel Brings in Last 19 Jews From War-Torn Yemen in Covert Operation
JNS.org – The Jewish Agency undertook a “complex, covert operation” to smuggle out 19 Yemenite Jews to Israel.
“Nineteen individuals arrived in Israel in recent days, including 14 from the town of Raydah and a family of five from Sanaa,” the Jewish Agency said in a statement. “The group from Raydah included the community’s rabbi, who brought a Torah scroll believed to be between 500 and 600 years old,” the statement said.
Yemenite Jews are viewed as one of the most ancient Jewish communities. According to the agency, there are 50 more Jews who have chosen not to immigrate to Israel and remain in Yemen, despite the fact that Jews have become increasingly targets of harassment and violence by Muslims in the country.
In 2008 Jewish teacher Moshe Ya’ish al-Nahari was murdered in Raydeh because he was Jewish. His widow and children moved to Israel four years later. In 2012, another Jewish leader in Raydeh, Aaron Joseph Zindani, was also murdered. His coffin was later brought to Israel by the Jewish Agency.
Zindani’s son, who was among the 19 Jews brought to Israel, told Israel’s NRG news website as translated from Hebrew that Israel “is our country. We have to come here. Today I finally felt that I am in country where I don’t have to be afraid. I stayed in Yemen until now because of the trial of the murderer of my father, who was stabbed to death in the market because he is Jewish. The trial hasn’t ended yet but I decided to leave. There is war in Yemen, there is no just trial and everything is bad.”
Jewish Agency sources cited the assistance of the American Jewish community in the endeavor.
“This is a relatively large group of people, so the decision to get them out was not easy,” a source told Yedioth Achronoth, “but certainly the current situation in Yemen and the war contributed to the decision. We must thank the Jewish rabbis in the United States who worked to bring these Jews to Israel.”