Sunday, July 27, 2003

Six Jews airlifted to Israel from Iraq

90 year old Sasson Salah Abu-Nabi was found in poor condition, living without water in the basement of an abandoned Baghdad building. His health improved after receiving medical treatment and Abu-Nabi said he regretted his decision not to come to Israel when he had the opportunity to do so over fifty years ago, saying, "I know that if I had moved to Israel with my family, my life would have been completely different.... But now I am here, and my family is here, and all of the Jewish people are my family."


HIA Vice President Rachel Zelon described the poor living conditions of Iraqi Jews, whose possessions were confiscated by the state during Saddam Hussein's regime: "Most of them live in bitter poverty in subhuman conditions...The small Jewish community has been living in a society that hates Israel and despises Jews. Most of them tried to hide their Jewish identities, telling only close friends."


Zelon said that the project received complete U.S. military support. "On Tuesday we met with the American commander of humanitarian aid in Baghdad. We told him that there was a group of elderly Jews who needed care and we wanted to take them to a safe country, to Israel. He answered emotionally: 'That's amazing, we'll do anything to help you.'"

A U.S. soldier stationed at the Baghdad airport while the group boarded the Jordanian plane that would bring them to Tel Aviv, stated, "You know, this is what makes the work that we're doing here worthwhile."