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40 Iranian Jews Immigrate to Israel in Secret Operation


A group of 40 Iranian Jews has immigrated to Israel after flying out of Iran in a secret operation organized by Israeli authorities.

The immigrants landed at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport Tuesday on a flight from an unnamed third country. They were greeted by family members who had already moved to Israel and offered $10,000 each to start their new lives.

The operation was funded by a global charity (the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews) that raises money from evangelical Christians who see the return of Jews to Israel as the fulfillment of biblical prophecy.

Israel's Jewish Agency, which deals with immigration, says the group is the largest to come to Israel since Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution. It says more than 200 Iranian Jews have moved to Israel this year, also a record.

Iran's Jewish community is protected by the constitution, but many Iranian Jews have left in recent years complaining of persecution or discrimination by the country's Islamic government.

Out of the estimated 100-thousand Jews who lived in Iran before the Islamic Revolution, only about 25,000 remain.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.