In an End-of-Days prophetic fulfillment, the last group of Yemenite Jews were brought to Israel in a covert rescue mission that literally snatched them out of a raging war zone.
The Jewish Agency for Israel announced Sunday night that the final group of Jews from war-torn Yemen landed safely in Israel. Their arrival signifies the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy which tells of an ingathering of the exiles that presages the Messianic era.
The group included nineteen people, fourteen of whom come from the town of Raydah and another family of five from Sanaa. Also on the flight were the wife and children of Aharon Zindani whose remains were brought to Israel for burial in the Holy Land.
No less significant was the 500 year old Torah carried by the community’s rabbi, an irreplaceable part of their heritage.
This concludes the covert operations that have brought approximately 200 Yemenite Jews to Israel in the last few years, an effort that included the Israeli Foreign Ministry, and the US State Department, among others.
Executive Chairman of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky said in a statement: “This is a highly significant moment in the history of Israel and of Aliyah. From Operation Magic Carpet in 1949 until the present day, the Jewish Agency has helped bring Yemenite Jewry home to Israel. Today we bring that historic mission to a close. This chapter in the history of one of the world’s oldest Jewish communities is coming to an end, but Yemenite Jewry’s unique, 2,000-year-old contribution to the Jewish people will continue in the State of Israel.”
The Israeli government has begun to reach out to millions of people around the world whose Jewish ancestors were forcibly converted to Catholicism during the Iberian Inquisition.
Before the miraculous creation of the State of Israel, Jews threatened in foreign countries would have been forced to fend for themselves or pray for Divine intervention. Since its creation, Israel has saved entire communities, as they did with the Ethiopian Jews, and also individual Jews in crisis, as they did in Entebbe.
Today, organizations are discovering communities with Jewish roots all around the world in the most unlikely of locations. The Bnei Menashe, for example, finally returned home to Israel after 2,000 years of wandering around the far-flung corner of India.
This latest Yemen operation came in the nick of time, returning a branch of the Jewish people to Israel just before they disappeared altogether. In October, the Jews of Yemen were given an ultimatum: convert or leave. The Houthis, who took control of the government in Saana in January of 2015, have in their logo, “Death to Israel” and “Damn the Jews”, illustrating the danger that the few remaining Jews faced.
Jews have a long history in Yemen, dating back to when King Solomon sent merchants and craftsmen to collect gold and silver for constructing the Temple. Yemenite Jews have a unique and strong tradition, with some families even retaining their tribal identity, claiming a clear ancestry to Judah, Benjamin, Levy, and Reuven.
Yemenite Jews in the past mostly coexisted with hostile Muslims who took power in the region, oppressing the non-Muslim population, with intermittent periods of relative harmony. The situation grew worse with the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1918. Between 1881 and 1914, 10% of the Yemenite Jews emigrated to Israel.
The majority of Yemenite Jews were brought to Israel in 1949 when the fledgling State of Israel initiated Operation on the Wings of Eagles, that brought 49,000 of the 63,000 Yemenite Jews to Israel in a secret operation that was not made public until several months after its successful completion.
Rescue operations for the remaining hundreds of Jews in Yemen were considered impossible after civil war broke out in 1962, trapping them in a Muslim country hostile to Jews. In the early years of 1990, a small operation succeeded in rescuing 1,200 Jews from Yemen.
The continuous raging war in Yemen has made for “catastrophic” humanitarian conditions, as classified by The World Health Organization. Anti-Semitic attacks increased in 2008 when Jewish teacher Moshe Ya’ish Nahari was murdered in Raydah. In 2012, Aharon Zindani was murdered in Sanaa and a young Jewish woman was abducted, forced to convert to Islam, and marry a Muslim man.
The Yemenite population in Israel today numbers over 350,000. Approximately fifty Jews chose to remain in Yemen despite the conditions, including approximately forty in Sanaa, where they live in a closed compound adjacent to the US embassy and enjoy the protection of Yemeni authorities.