The new arrivals
The new arrivalsSpokesperson

Today (Monday), Israel completed a secret operation to rescue some of Yemen's last remaining Jews.

The plane landed early this morning with 19 new olim, including the heads of the local community. Rabbi Saliman Dahari, who came with his parents and wife, also brought a Torah scroll dating back to the fifteen or sixteenth century. Five of the passengers came from Sana'a, while the other fourteen are from the city of Rayda.

Jewish Agency Chair Natan Sharansky said, "This is a highly significant moment in the history of Israel and of Aliyah. From Operation Magic Carpet in 1949 until the present day, The Jewish Agency has helped bring Yemenite Jewry home to Israel. Today we bring that historic mission to a close. This chapter in the history of one of the world’s oldest Jewish communities is coming to an end, but Yemenite Jewry’s unique, 2,000-year-old contribution to the Jewish people will continue in the State of Israel."

Deputy Minister for Regional Cooperation Ayoub Kara (Likud), who played a significant role, has also stated: "I am happy to have achieved this very important goal for my Jewish brothers in Yemen to come to Israel. There is no higher purpose than to save lives in Israel.

"We successfully brought Jewish families that were threatened by death and assimilation. I thank the Prime Minister and the head of the Jewish Agency who supported my desire to bring over the Yemenite Jews, whatever the price.

"The aliyah of Yemenite Jews was my top priority during my campaign for the Knesset and I am happy that we have succeeded in achieving this important goal."

The US State Department helped with the project's organization, which took much of the past year.

Though the fighting in Yemen is primarily between the Saudi-backed government and the Iran-backed Houthi jihadists, it has been particularly hard on the country's dwindling Jewish population. The Houthis' motto is "God is Great, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse on the Jews, Victory to Islam," and the group has threatened to attack Jews unless they convert.

The Jewish Agency has rescued about 200 Jews from Yemen over the past few years.

Fifty Jews still remain in the country, having declined the offer to come to Israel. All live in a closed compound next to the US embassy. A number are elderly and some have relatives who were forced to marry Muslim men.