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Israel Airlifts 17 Yemeni Jews To Holy Land in Covert Mission

In a covert cross-continental operation, the Jewish Agency airlifted 17 Yemeni Jews to Israel on Wednesday, reuniting members of several families who had been separated for two years.

The group included four adults and one small child flown in directly from Yemen to Ben-Gurion International Airport where they were reunited with their family members who had been previously smuggled out of Yemen and taken to Argentina two years ago by a group of Satmar Hassidim.

The other 12 Yemeni Jews had been residing in Buenos Aires, and they were taken out of Argentina clandestinely, without the knowledge of their Satmar patrons. The group consisted of four children from one family and five from another, one of whom had married and had a husband and child joining her on the flight to Israel.

The Jewish Agency said the rather logistically complicated operation had been in the makings for several weeks and was prompted by concerns for the safety of the small Jewish population of Yemen, in the wake of growing threats from radical Islamist groups including Al-Qaida. These threats have intensified since the ouster of the former President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The Israeli ministries of foreign affairs, interior and immigration absorption were also involved in the operation.



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