Last Jewish families 'leave Yemen' after Houthi ultimatum: report

Last Jewish families 'leave Yemen' after Houthi ultimatum: report
Thirteen Yemeni Jews have left their homes in Sanaa after an ultimatum by Houthi rebels.
3 min read
29 March, 2021
The individuals who left their homes were among the last Jews in Yemen [Getty]
Thirteen Jews reportedly left Yemen this weekend after a campaign of harassment by Houthi rebels, according to Saudi media, leaving just four elderly Jewish citizens in the country.

The three families were forced from their homes in the capital Sanaa over the weekend, Asharq Alawsat reported, with no mention of their current location.

The UN's refugee agency is currently searching for new homes for the families who already refused to relocate to Israel, which hosts the largest Yemeni Jewish community in the world.

Only four elderly Jewish people remain in Yemen, after decades of migration all but end the community's presence in the country, which spans millennia.

In August 2020, The New Arab reported that Yemen's remaining Jewish community was to move to Abu Dhabi, which has hosted reunions of Yemeni-Jewish families in recent years.

The 13 Jewish Yemenis were purportedly coerced to leave Yemen in exchange for the freedom of Levi Salem Marhabi, a Jewish man who has been detained by the Houthis since 2016 despite a court ordering his release in September 2019.

Ami Magazine said he was accused of helping a Yemeni Jewish family move to Israel while transporting a precious deerskin Torah scroll

Some believe the parchment, which is viewed as a national treasure, is 800 years old.

The Yemeni court ruled that Marhabi was innocent of the charges against him and was being wrongfully detained.

During his imprisonment in Sanaa, Marhabi faced torture and became partially paralysed due to a stroke, Asharq Al-Awsat reported.

One individual who recently fled Yemen told the Saudi daily that the Houthis gave them a choice of remaining in the country and facing further hostility or leaving and having Marhabi released.

"History will remember us as the last of Yemeni Jews who were still clinging to their homeland until the last moment," the source told the daily.

"We had rejected many temptations time and time again, and refused to leave our homeland, but today we are forced [to]."

Previous suggestions that Yemen's Jewish population were to be banished by the Houthis were denied as recently as last July, according to The Jerusalem Post.

The Houthis are accused of harassing Yemen's last remaining Jews and forcing them out of the country, since the rebels took over the capital in September 2014.

Among insults to the US and Israel, the Houthis' banner also reads "curse the Jews".

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