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Israel evacuates Jews from Yemen in covert operation

Officials have relocated 19 Jews from Yemen to Israel. Only 50 members of the community are now left in the conflict-ridden country, home to one of the world's oldest Jewish communities.

"Nineteen individuals arrived in Israel in recent days, including 14 from the town of Raydah and a family of five from Sanaa," said the Jewish Agency in a statement on Monday.

The agency, responsible for immigration to Israel, confirmed that the operation marked an end to the 2,000-year-old Jewish community in the Middle Eastern nation. A spokesman said the relocation took several months to plan. Two Jews were brought in earlier last week and the rest arrived on Sunday.

"The group from Raydah included the community's rabbi, who brought a Torah scroll believed to be between 500 and 600 years old," the statement added.

Only about 50 Jews are now left in the Arabian Peninsula country, with most of them living close to the US embassy in Yemen's capital, Sanaa. A monthly stipend offered by the Yemeni government was stopped six months ago and the group living in the compound is facing eviction, news agencies have reported.

Yemen 'extremely dangerous' for Jews

The Jewish population in Yemen has dwindled since 1948, when Israel was founded. Around 50,000 migrated in 1949 and 1950 in a secret mission called Operation Magic Carpet. By the 1990s, the number of Jews in Yemen had dropped to less than 1,000. In 1993, the removal of a travel ban sparked a fresh wave of emigration to Israel.

Recently, the religious minority has complained of harassment by Houthi rebels, who seized the capital nearly two years ago. "Being a Jew in Yemen right now is extremely dangerous," Jewish Agency spokesman Yigal Palmor told the AFP news agency. "The Houthi militants, for example, are openly anti-Semitic."

Yemen was plunged into chaos in 2014 when

Houthi rebels

stormed the parliament in Sanaa, forcing President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to flee south and seek help from Saudi Arabia. Houthi forces have retained their strongholds in the Yemeni capital and the northern town of Raydah despite

bombing raids by the Saudi-led coalition

.

mg/cmk (Reuters, AFP)

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