Tunisian Jews flee upheaval for Israel


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Twenty Jews from Tunisia have come to Israel amid the political upheaval and violence in the African nation.

Ten of the Tunisian Jews who came to Israel this week are members of one extended family and have officially made aliyah, according to a Jewish Agency spokesman. Another 10 are young people who have arrived to participate in an Israel experience program; it is not clear if they are planning to make Israel their permanent home.

Several hundred of the 1,500 Jews living in Tunisia also are considering making aliyah to escape the current political situation in the country, according to reports. About 1,100 Tunisian Jews live in Djerba, with the rest in the capital city of Tunis.

The Jewish Agency in a statement on its website said tha it was closely monitoring events on the ground in Tunisia.

"According to our latest information, the Jewish community remains unharmed, although the political situation is developing rapidly and it is unclear what tomorrow may bring," the statement said. "We note with optimism tinged with concern that the Tunisian military has deployed forces specifically charged with protecting the Jewish community in Djerba and elsewhere, a sign of both Tunisia’s continued commitment to the safety of its Jews and the very real threats faced by the community in these uncertain times.

"In addition, the Jewish Agency has succeeded in enabling any Tunisian Jew who wishes to do so to leave the country for Israel. A few dozen have chosen to make the move and are currently being assisted in their first steps in Israel by JAFI personnel."

The immigration of the Tunisian Jews to Israel required the assistance of the Jewish Agency, several Israeli ministries and other countries, according to the Yediot Achronot newspaper.

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