Israeli group secretly flies 17 Yemeni Jews to Israel

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An Israeli organization said on Thursday that it has secretly flown 17 Yemeni Jews to Israel after evacuating them from the Arabian Peninsula country.

A direct flight from Yemen brought four adults and one child to Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv on Wednesday, said Arielle Di Porto, a spokeswoman for the Jewish Agency responsible for Jewish immigration to Israel.

They joined 12 relatives who had come from Argentina a few days before in a similar operation, Di Porto told AFP.

The Argentina-based contingent had been secretly evacuated from Yemen in 2011 with the help of the Satmar Hasidic Jewish community, many of whom are based outside of Israel.

Di Porto gave no details on how the fleeing Jews were evacuated, saying these were “secret operations,” but a Jewish Agency statement on Thursday said it had worked “hand in hand” with the Israeli foreign and interior ministries to carry them out.

“Some 50 Yemenite Jews have arrived in Israel over the past few months as the security situation in Yemen deteriorates,” Di Porto said.

Some 151 Yemeni Jews have arrived in Israel since 2009, according to the statement, which said this reflected “the uptick in the number of anti-Semitic incidents” in Yemen.

“The number of anti-Semitic threats and attacks against the Jewish community there has been on the rise since 2008 when Jewish schoolteacher Moshe Nahari was killed, (and) spiked in 2010 with the murder of Jewish community leader Aaron Zindani,” it said.

The Agency says fewer than 90 Yemeni Jews remain in Yemen, half of them in Sanaa.

Some 49,000 Yemeni Jews were airlifted to the newly-formed state of Israel in 1949 in what became known as “Operation Magic Carpet.”

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