Thursday, April 02, 2015

Murder victim's family still in Yemen

 Why is Yahya Zandani still in Yemen? In an interview after the murder of his father Aharon in Yemen, he vowed to bring his wife and two children out to Israel. Instead, he went back to that war-torn country to live in a guarded compound in Sana'a with his wife's family. They are among the last 40 Jews in the capital, who are exasperating the Israeli authorities by  stubbornly refusing to budge. Nevertheless, Yahya confides his fears to the Times of Israel:


Yahya Zandani with two of his brothers. The photo was taken in Israel at the funeral of Yahya's murdered father Aharon two years ago (photo: Elhanan Miller, ToI)

In June 2012, Yahya Zandani’s father, Aharon, was stabbed to death at the main market in Sana’a. His body was brought to Israel for burial. Nevertheless, Yahya returned to Yemen, where his wife’s father and three brothers still live.

Today, the family are among Yemen’s last 60 Jews — 40 of whom are huddled in a gated government compound in the heart of what is now the rebel-controlled capital, Sana’a. 

Speaking by phone to The Times of Israel on Tuesday, Zandani, 31, said that despite their avowedly anti-Semitic credo, the Houthi rebels who captured Sana’a last September and have moved south to the port city of Aden, are not threatening the Jews, at least not yet. But he confided deep fears of what may lie in store.

Zandani was speaking from a compound known as the touristic city — where deposed president Ali Abdullah Saleh relocated the community in 2008 after it was driven out of the northern province of Saada by the Houthis. Arab diplomats from Iraq and Egypt have also moved into the compound in recent days, after their embassies were bombed out.

Zandani said that Jews, like other Yemenis, are experiencing nightly aerial bombings by the Saudi-led coalition, but are not being singled out for their religion.

An Arab coalition headed by Saudi Arabia began bombing Houthi strongholds across the country last week after President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi fled the country from Aden, which the Shiite rebels captured in March, pleading for foreign assistance.

Houthi Shiite fighters wearing army uniforms ride on a pickup truck as they guard a street during a demonstration in Sanaa, Yemen, January 23, 2015. Their sign reads 'death to Israel, cursed be the Jews' (photo credit: AP/Hani Mohammed)

Houthi Shiite fighters wearing army uniforms ride on a pickup truck as they guard a street during a demonstration in Sanaa, Yemen, January 23, 2015. Their sign reads ‘death to Israel, cursed be the Jews’ (photo credit: AP/Hani Mohammed)

The motto of the Shiite insurgency, which emerged in Saada in 2004, is “death to America, death to Israel, cursed be the Jews, victory to Islam.” Nonetheless, the Jews have not been targeted by the rebels to date, said Zandani.

“The situation is difficult in Yemen with the war and everything, but there’s no [distinct] problem for the Jews,” Zandani said. “It’s all [directed at] the government.”

“The Houthis aren’t speaking with the Jews, but there’s still some fear,” Zandani admitted. “We don’t know who is a Houthi and who isn’t, who’s good and who’s bad… We don’t know what the Arabs are planning.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Whatever one thinks about Yemen in the past, the Sunni government had for many years protected the remaining jews. What will happen now?