Israeli sources revealed yesterday the deportation of the last Jewish family from Aleppo to Tel Aviv, facilitated by a wealthy Jewish-American.
According to Israeli media Monday, three men suddenly arrived to a house in Syria’s Aleppo, ordering the family to take some possessions and hurry towards a minibus that was waiting outside for them.
The journey took the family from Aleppo to Tel Aviv, via Turkey, as part of an initiative organized by the Jewish-American businessman. The family of eight includes an 88-year-old woman and her two daughters, as well as a Muslim son-in-law and their three children.
Israeli Wala website explained Monday that a relative of the family had told them that a wealthy Jewish man living in the United States wanted to offer them help in fleeing Aleppo, after hearing news about the approach of the Islamic State (ISIS). The family initially hesitated and tried to reject the initiative out of fear, but a Jewish mediator eventually persuaded the family. Before the arrival of the bus, Syrian passports were handed out to members of the family, departing at noon when ISIS stops to observe prayer.
According to sources, the adults inside the bus worked to calm the three children, giving them bread and yoghurt. But when the bus was stopped by and armed guard at a checkpoint controlled by Nusra Front, the driver declared the passengers were refugees fleeing from President Bashar al-Assad towards the north. The guard allowed them to continue along the road.
The bus passed the border between Syria and Turkey after 36 hours. Upon arriving in Istanbul, the family was greeted by the American businessman who had organized the evacuation. He expressed his joy, saying "we have taken the last Jewish woman from Aleppo and I feel very emotional."
The family had hoped to travel to the United States, where some relatives live, but the American businessman persuaded them to move to Israel instead. However, when representatives of the Jewish Agency NGO visited the family in Istanbul to confirm their identities, the fact that some of its members are Muslim raised some reservations, resulting in some family members having to remain in Istanbul for a month, without food or shelter. One daughter and her Muslim husband were eventually forced to return to Syria. The rest of the family now resides in Tel Aviv.
The behavior of the Jewish Agency has since raised the ire of the American businessman, after refusing to receive the wife of a Muslim. "Some parties in Israel are trying to hide this tragic story", he said.
The Jewish Agency responded, stating the woman was longer Jewish as she converted to Islam, with the Interior Ministry ruling she did not qualify for relocation to Israel.
This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.