Family of Murdered Yemeni Jew Among 16 Covertly Brought to Israel

Three families immigrated to Israel earlier this week, same day Yemen sentenced man to death for murder.

The relatives of a Jewish man murdered last year in Yemen were among the three families brought to Israel on a secret Jewish Agency mission earlier this week, a member of the Arabian peninsula state's Jewish community said on Tuesday.

The 16 Jews left Yemen on Sunday, the same day a state appeals court handed a death sentence to Abdul-Aziz al-Abdi for shooting dead Mashaa Yaeesh al-Nahari in December.

The three families come from Amran in the north but were living in the capital Sanaa because of deteriorating security amid a rebellion in neighboring Saada province by a Shi'ite tribal group.

"The Jewish Agency took charge of the operation to move the Jews after they previously helped a family of 11 to leave," said the source who declined to be named.

There are an estimated 200 to 300 Jews in Yemen, mainly in Sanaa, remnants of a centuries-old community that spoke Hebrew. About 50,000 moved to Israel in an airlift begun in 1949.

Israel defines itself as a Jewish state and offers citizenship to Jews from anywhere in the world.

Yemen, the Arab world's poorest country, is struggling with a Shi'ite revolt in the north, a secessionist movement in the south and growing militancy among Sunni al Qaeda sympathizers.