Helicopter (stock image)
Helicopter (stock image)Reuters

The Arabic media outlet Al-Khaleej Al-Jadeed has reported that Israel covertly airlifted over 400 Yemenite Jews in February who had been caught in the crossfire between the Yemenite government and the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in the ongoing civil war.

According to the report, Israeli commandos landed in Yemen and directed the local Jewish community into helicopters, flew them out of Yemen, and transferred them onto airplanes in a neighboring Arab country. The Jews were then flown to Israel and sworn to secrecy due to the sensitive nature of the operation.

The report cited what it claimed was an IDF officer saying that "I can not give details about this rescue, but it is the authority of the defense and foreign ministries, and our mission is only to absorb and rehabilitate new immigrants, to provide them with sources of work and to teach them the Hebrew language".

A Foreign Ministry spokesperson told the haredi Behadrei Haredim website that "the report is unknown to us".

The vast majority of Yemenite Jews fled violence in the country in the 1950s following the rebirth of the Jewish state of Israel. A full 850,000 Jewish refugees were forced out of Arab countries in those years, losing most of their possessions in the process.

In 2016, Israel successfully completed a secret operation to rescue some of Yemen's last remaining Jews in an effort masterminded by Druze Communication Minister Ayoub Kara in conjunction with the US State Department.

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 Jewish Agency says that it has rescued about 200 Jews from Yemen over the past few years.