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Sixteen Yemenite Jews Arrive in Israel - June 21, 2009

On June 21, 2009, sixteen Yemenite Jews arrived in Israel in a secret immigration operation orchestrated by the Jewish Agency for Israel . Though Yemenite Jews have the special protection of the President of Yemen, Ali Abdallah Salah, the number of anti-Semitic attacks against Jews has recently spiked. The rising occurrences of violence against Jews in Yemen led to a similar Jewish Agency operation in February 2009 that rescued a family of 10 who were threatened by Al Qaeda.

Also on June 21, an appeals court sentenced to death Abdel Aziz Yehia Hamoud al-Abdi, a Muslim retired Yemeni air force pilot, who admitted to gunning down Jewish teacher Moshe Yaish Nahari in December. His previous verdict, which required him to pay a fine to the victim's family, was overturned in favor of capital punishment. According to Islamic law, a man convicted of murder can only be spared the death penalty if the victim's family agrees to compensation, diyah in Arabic. The original verdict was unusual because Nahari's family refused to accept the fine and vowed to pursue the death penalty.