Yemeni Jews seek shelter (Archive)
Photo: Reuters

60 Yemeni Jews settled in US in secret op

Washington Journal says move planned by Jewish groups followed year of mounting harassment

About 60 Yemeni Jews have moved to the United States since July under a clandestine operation by State Department officials to escape anti-Jewish attacks in their homeland, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.


Only 200 to 300 Jews still live among Yemen's 23 million Muslims. The murder of a Jew last year, a Shi'ite revolt in northern Yemen and the growth of Sunni Islamist fervour have fuelled their desire to leave the Arabian Peninsula country.


"The operation followed a year of mounting harassment, and was plotted with Jewish relief groups while Washington was signalling alarm about Yemen," the Journal said.


State Department officials were not immediately available to comment on the story.


The journal said a first group of 17 arrived in New York on July 8, a day after leaving the Yemeni capital Sanaa on a flight for Frankfurt.


"In all, about 60 Yemeni Jews have resettled in the U.S. since July; officials say another 100 could still come," the paper said. "An undisclosed number of people have reached Israel," it added.


The Journal quoted Yair Yaish, head of the Yemenite Jewish Federation of America, as saying he was barraged with "desperate calls from the community here saying we have to do something to get our families out."


The US ambassador in Sanaa urged Yemeni ministers to facilitate the departure, and the government eventually agreed to issue exit permits, it said.


"It was the embassy's view, and the Department concurred, that because of their vulnerability, we should consider them for resettlement," the paper quoted a spokeswoman for the State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration as saying.


The refugees are being settled in Monsey, New York, a suburban enclave of ultraorthodox Jews, the Journal said.


One man describing his final months in Yemen spoke of rocks shattering the windows of his house and car, the paper said. Another bore scars from rocks that hit his head and said he had not left his house for two months.


פרסום ראשון: 10.31.09, 11:24
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