JERUSALEM – Six of the estimated 34 Jews remaining in Iraq (search) have arrived in Israel, including a 99-year-old woman, officials said.
The six were elderly and the effort to take them out of Iraq was considered a humanitarian mission, said Giora Rom, director general of the Jewish Agency (search), the organization responsible for bringing Jews to Israel.
Iraq once had a community of 130,000 Jews, but about 120,000 made their way to Israel between 1949 and 1952, with smaller numbers of Jews leaving the country in subsequent years.
Only 34 Jews were found in Iraq by a Jewish Agency envoy who visited the country after the U.S.-led defeat of Saddam Hussein (search)'s government, Rom said.
The other 28 Iraqi Jews did not want to come to Israel, said Rom speaking on Israel's Channel 2 TV. The agency supplied those who stayed with religious articles.
Among the six that arrived over the weekend was a 99-year-old woman and her 70-year-old daughter, another 70 year-old woman who was the last Jew in the southern Iraqi city of Basra, and a blind 90-year old Baghdad resident.
The names of the six were not released, and the Jewish Agency kept the mission a secret until they landed in Israel.
Rom said that one of the women spoke to her son in Israel for the first time in 35 years during a stopover in Amman, Jordan. Two of the women were taken by ambulance for medical checkups immediately after landing in Tel Aviv.
Channel 2 reported that the six had been flown from Iraq to Jordan with British aid and from there to Israel on a specially chartered plane.