Members of the Jewish community of Yemen who were arrested earlier this year over the spiriting of a Torah scroll to Israel along with the recent aliyah of Yemenite Jews have all been released from custody.
The news was reported to Deputy Minister for Regional Cooperation Ayoub Kara (Likud) by Yemenite olim who were part of what was billed as the "final" wave of aliyah from the impoverished, war-torn Middle Eastern state last March.
A tiny handful of Jews – numbering around 50 – opted to remain in Yemen for a variety of personal and commercial reasons, but a number of them, along with several Arabs suspected of helping smuggle the Torah scroll out of the country, were arrested in the weeks that followed. The Yemenite government has claimed that the scroll is part of Yemen's heritage, as opposed to belonging to the Jewish community, and accused them of stealing it.
All those arrested have now been released, Kara said.
The deputy minister revealed the good news at a conference of the Likud party's Netanya chapter.
During his address, Kara – a Druze Arab who maintains extensive links to Arab communities outside of Israel – also confirmed that an a Jewish Israeli citizen is currently being held prison in the Yemenite city of Amran. He said Israel is making every effort to secure his release.
It is not clear whether that prisoner is the 64-year-old Ashkelon resident who disappeared during a trip to Yemen last year.