Israel secretly airlifts 19 Jews from Yemen

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Tel Aviv, March 21 (IANS) Israeli authorities on Monday said it airlifted 19 Jews out of Yemen, the last group who agreed to leave the war-stricken country.

Seventeen Yemeni Jews arrived in Israel on Monday, in addition to a couple who arrived a few days ago, said the Jewish Agency, an Israel-based organisation aimed at encouraging Jewish immigration to Israel.

According to the agency, the group comprises a family of five from Sanaa and 14 people from the town of Raydah, Xinhua news agency reported.

About 50 Jews still remain in Yemen, refusing to leave the country despite the ongoing civil war, it added.

Channel 2 TV news reported that the US State Department helped coordinate the trip from Yemen.

In 1949-1954, Israel airlifted more than 50,000 Yemeni Jews out of Yemen and brought them to Israel in two secret operations, but some Jews had decided to stay on inside Yemen.

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“Today we bring that historic (immigration) mission to a close, ” Jewish Agency chairman Natan Sharansky said.

“This is a very significant moment in the history of the state of Israel and for immigration to Israel.”

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