JERUSALEM (Aug. 3)
Sixty-five Jews from Abkhazia, a breakaway region of Georgia, in the former Soviet Union, arrived in Israel this week in a rescue operation organized by the Jewish Agency.
They arrived here late Tuesday night with 140 other Jews from Georgia.
The rescue operation began with the group traveling in buses from Sukhumi, the capital of Abkhazia, 12 hours through the mountainous area “in which battles were still raging,” according to the Jewish Agency.
It was the first group taken out of Sukhumi by the Jewish Agency since Russia orchestrated a cease-fire last week between the Abkhazian breakaway regime and the Georgian government.
Evidently, however, the cease-fire has not succeeding in stopping the fighting completely.
The operation was coordinated with the new Abkhazian regime and the Georgian government. Georgian soldiers escorted the group part of the way, while the Georgian government provided the necessary travel documents.
In July 1992, there were 2,000 Jews in Abkhazia, while only 100 remain today.
Roughly 18,000 Jews now live in Georgia, 20 percent of whom are expected to immigrate to Israel by the end of this year.
Two thousand of them have come to Israel since the beginning of this year, while a total of 7,000 have come in the last four years.