Yemen minister says fate of country’s last 50 Jews unknown
Yemen’s information minister said his government is unaware of the fate of the country’s few dozen remaining Jews, most of whom reside in the Houthi rebel group-controlled capital of Sana’a, Israel Radio reported.
Speaking to an Israel Radio reporter on the sidelines of a conference on the civil war in Yemen in Paris, Moammer al-Iryani also said Saturday that the Houthis view the tiny remaining Jewish population as an enemy and are engaged in a campaign of ethnic cleansing that includes ridding Yemen of its Jewish community.
Approximately 50 Jews are believed to remain in Yemen, 40 of them living in Sana’a in a compound adjacent to the American Embassy. Despite the ongoing civil war, they have refused to leave the country.
The Iranian-backed Houthis, who took control of large parts of the country in an offensive beginning in 2015 alongside forces loyal to former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, have long incited against Jews and Israel. The group’s slogan is: “Death to America. Death to Israel. Curse upon the Jews. Victory to Islam. Allahu Akbar.”
Al-Iryani said that the loss of the vast majority of the country’s Jewish population was a blow to Yemen’s heritage and culture and that the Yemeni government hopes to reestablish a relationship with the Yemenite Jewish community that left the country, Israel Radio reported.
In March 2016, 17 Yemenite Jews were brought to Israel in a covert operation by the Jewish Agency for Israel and US State Department as part of a decades-long “historic mission” to “rescue” the Jews of the country.
The group comprised the final batch of approximately 200 Yemenite Jews brought to Israel by the Jewish Agency in recent years, the organization said. Similar initiatives in recent years have helped bring the last few remaining members of the community to Israel as the country descended into civil war.
Saudi Arabia and several of its Sunni Arab allies launched an intervention in March 2015 to support President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi after Iran-backed Houthi rebels and their allies seized control of large parts of Yemen including the capital Sana’a.
The United Nations says more than 7,700 people have been killed over the past two years in Yemen, which also faces a serious risk of famine this year.
Some 49,000 Yemeni Jews were brought to the nascent State of Israel in Operation Magic Carpet in 1949-50.
AFP contributed to this report.