40 new immigrants from Iran landed Tuesday evening in Israel in the framework of a special Jewish Agency operation. The group came via an unnamed third country and consists of 10 families and three additional people who made the journey alone.
The group will be sent to an absorption center in southern Israel. According to JAFI data, a record number of 200 Iranian Jews made Aliyah during 200, up 65 from the previous year.
Jewish Agency officials said the newcomers abandoned their property and possessions in Iran and left without announcing their intended final destination. Most, they said, have come from Tehran.
Sasson Zargari met his sister who arrived from Iran alone after they have been apart for the past 15 years: "We waited for a long time to have the family reunited. My sister will meet my daughters for the first time, "he told ynet.
Zargari's parents are still in Iran and he hopes they too will arrive shortly. "They missed my wedding. I hope we will be reunited soon"
Ariel and Eli Shefayim will meet their parents "they decided to come because they miss the children," Ariel said. "They have a very good life in Iran. The Iranian government protects them. I am afraid they will not adjust to life in Israel."
Ariel said that when he made aliyah six years ago, he had a difficult time: "The state's assistance is not sufficient. We wanted our parents to be with us in Jerusalem but we were told they will be sent to Beersheba. They do not know a word of Hebrew so I am afraid they will not make it."
Yehiel Eckstein, a rabbi who founded the Jewish-evangelical International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, said each immigrant receives $10,000 from the group to help get them started in Israel because they ''start in Israel with nothing,'' leaving behind all their possessions.
Eckstein said he believes Iran's 25,000 Jews are in danger from Iran's hardline regime. Iran's hardline president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has repeatedly called for Israel's
destruction and called the Holocaust a ''myth.''
''Many of the Jews there think that this too will pass, meaning Ahmadinejad and the mullahs. But our feeling is that this is very similar to the situation of Jews in Germany in the 1930s. By the time they realize it's not going to blow over, it'll be too late,'' Eckstein said.
News agencies contributed to this report