Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, published in London, reported Wednesday that the process involved in Israel's operation to bring in 17 Jews still living in Yemen may have involved bribing local militants.
The paper quotes sources who say that hefty payments were given to Houthi rebel groups, who control the capital city of Sana'a, in order to enable the operation. It was further reported that the Jews first flew to Amman from Sana'a, then boarded another flight to Israel. There has been no official Jordanian response to these reports.
The group, of which 12 lived in the city of Raydah, included the community’s rabbi, who also serves as its kosher slaughterer. He brought with him a 600-year-old Torah scroll. The group's five remaining members came from Sana'a.
The 17 met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netnayahu, who said to them, "Welcome to Jerusalem, welcome to Israel. I am very excited to see you here, and excited that you know how to read the Torah. We have waited many years to bring you here, and with god's help, it worked out."
The group's departure was not quietly accepted. According to information received by Ynet, Houthi authorities have arrested several people who are suspected of being involved in the operation. The arrests were not due to the mere fact that Jews were snuck out of the country, but because they managed to sneak out the antique Torah scroll, which Houthi leadership considers "the property of the Yemeni people."
After the group's departure, there are no longer any Jews in Yemen who live as part of an organized Jewish community. About 40-50 Jews in Yemen refuse to leave. Most live in Sana'a, although a few remain in Raydeh. Yemini Jews have been increasingly harassed in recent years by radical Muslims.