Photo: Reuters
Yemen's chief rabbi. 'We don't want to leave'
Photo: Reuters

Israel fears for safety of Yemen's remaining few Jews

With Saudi and allies striking Iranian-backed fighters, Israel and Jewish Agency increasingly frustrated by refusal of handful of Jews left in the country to leave.

Israel is closely following developments in Yemen, where Gulf states are bombing Iranian-backed fighters, and has expressed deep concern over the fate of the last few Jews in the country.



Saudi Arabia and its allies launched a series of air strikes overnight Wednesday, battling Iranian-backed Houthi fighters who have captured swathes of the country.


The Jews of Yemen (Photo: Reuters)
The Jews of Yemen (Photo: Reuters)


Israel believes that there are less than 100 Jews remaining in Yemen. Most of that number is concentrated in Sanaa, which has fallen to the Iranian-backed rebels.


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The Foreign Ministry and the Jewish Agency have been in an ongoing state of frustration over the refusal of Yemen's Jews to leave, despite the risks there.


The Jews living in Yemen - most of whom had the opportunity to leave for Israel or another country, but refused – face an approaching danger from the advancing rebel forces, who have repeatedly made statements against Israel.


"We don't want to leave. If we wanted to, we would have done so a long time ago," Sanaa's chief rabbi Yahya Youssef said in February.


He did concede, however, that: "Since last September, our movements have become very limited for fear of the security situation."


Until 1959, the Jewish community numbered some 50,000. Today, as far as is known, there are 76 Jews in the capital and other 23 in other cities.


Most Jews lived in harmony with their neighbors over the years, but in recently Islamist elements have worked against them.


The ousted president decided on the advice of Western bodies and Jewish organizations to house them in a secure area near the Defense Ministry in Sanaa.


Benjamin Tovias contributed to this report.


פרסום ראשון: 03.26.15, 10:35
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