Originally published in Christian Today
Just 50 Jews remain in Yemen after 19 were airlifted to Israel in a final covert rescue mission on Sunday, marking the end of a Jewish community dating back 2 000 years.
The secret operation was announced some time after the plane landed at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion Airport on Sunday and the passengers had made their way to their temporary homes.
Seventeen Jews were rescued from Yemen on that plane, following two who were airlifted earlier last week, leaving behind 50 who chose to stay in the country. They live mostly in a compound near the US embassy in the capital, Sana’a.
Among the group rescued was the community’s rabbi, who brought with him a Torah believed to be over 500 years old.
Yemen has become increasingly hostile to its dwindling Jewish population. There has been a Jewish presence in the country since the first century and 50 000 Yemeni Jews still lived there in the middle of last century, but for the last 70 years Israel has been secretly rescuing them.
Israel declared Sunday’s airlift the last of its covert rescue operations, marking the end to the “historic mission”.
Sana’a fell under the control of the rebel Houthi movement in 2014. The Houthi are from a branch of Shia Islam and hold the motto: “Death to America, death to Israel, curse the Jews, victory to Islam.”
The end of the historic mission “is a moment of utmost significance for the state of Israel and Jewish immigration,” said Natan Sharansky, head of the Jewish Agency for Israel.
“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,” he added,
Sulaiman al-Dahari was rescued from Yemen with his family. “The situation is mixed between fear and poverty,” he told CNN. “The economic situation is bad. I feel comfortable here in Israel.
“Of course, I will get back to Yemen, because my family and I love Yemen.”