Aaron Joseph Zindani, one of the leaders of the tiny Jewish community in Yemen, was stabbed to death on Tuesday in the capital, Sanaa, by a Muslim resident who claimed that Zindani had been practicing sorcery.
Zindani's son, Yehiya, recounted that his father had been stabbed in his neck and stomach "at the Saawan market near the U.S. embassy in the northeast section of the capital." Zindani was taken to a hospital and operated on, but eventually succumbed to his wounds.
Yehiya added that the stabber was someone familiar to the family, who had claimed that his father "ruined his business with magic."
According to Arabic media sources, security forces have already apprehended the perpetrator. Police have named the attacker as Abed al-Harbi.
Upon notice of Zindani's death, many members of the small Jewish community remaining in Yemen, around 300 people, gathered at the family home to mourn. Zindani lived in Yemen with some of his children, while his wife several additional relatives live in Rehovot, Israel.
One family member said, "The situation is not easy for us. It was hard for the family to receive the terrible news. We fear that if we speak out here, it will adversely affect the rest of the family in Yemen."
Meanwhile, members of the Association for Society and Culture of Yemenite Jews were working quickly to bring the body to Israel for burial. Members are aware of Yemenite Jews' fear for their lives; some are even working secretly to bring the children of those still in Yemen to Israel, out of the media and under the government's nose.
Association Director Shlomo Zion said, "We are trying to bring the 300 or so Jews who still remain there to Israel. We have to do everything to bring them to Israel. Only here will they feel secure. We undertake all sorts of covert operations in efforts to try to help our brothers there."
Zindani and his family originally lived in Saadah, in northern Yemen, but in recent years it turned into a war zone due to Shiite rebellions.
In light of the situation, the Yemeni government transferred the Jews in 2007 to Sanaa, settling them in neighborhoods near the U.S. Embassy. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, about 60,000 Yemenite Jews have immigrated to Israel. This significantly decreased their numbers in Yemen. Most Yemenites moved to Israel during Operation Magic Carpet in 1949–1950.