On March 21, 17 new immigrants from Yemen landed in Israel. These are Jews who were born in the war-torn Muslim nation and brought to Israel in a secret operation, aided by many international players. The Jewish Agency, which works to encourage the immigration of Jews throughout the world to Israel, oversaw the operation.
The secrecy of the operation did not only stem from the fear that Islamic elements would try to thwart it, but also from a fear that Jewish elements would actually try to foil the immigration of Yemeni Jews to Israel. These would be the Satmar Hasidim (ultra-Orthodox community), who are considered anti-Zionist and based in New York. According to Jews who have previously emigrated from Yemen, since 1991 Satmar Hasidim have tried to prevent Yemeni Jews from moving to Israel and have encouraged them to move to the United States instead. According to the Yemeni immigrants, the Hasidim told them that in Israel they could not keep their faith and customs, and that their children would leave the faith.