Linking up with family members who have already settled in Israel, they are among the first wave of the 7,200-strong Bnei Menashe community’s mass immigration to the Jewish state.
The Indians say they are the descendants of the 10 tribes who lived in the kingdom of Israel in Biblical times and who were dispersed, according to the Bible, after the invasion of the Assyrians in 721 BC.
Michael Freund of the Shavei Israel group (meaning “those who return to Israel” in Hebrew), which arranged their journey, said more than 7,000 people have sought help from the Israeli government to emigrate from India.
“The members of this tribe have never forgotten where they came from and we are excited to be able to help them come back,” he told AFP, adding that hundreds of others were expected to arrive in coming weeks.
More than 1,700 members of the Bnei Menashe community already live in Israel.