Arutz Sheva Corrects: No IDF Role in Aleppo Rescue Operation

The English-language Israeli Arutz Sheva news site has corrected an article which incorrectly reported that the Israeli army (IDF) took part in a dramatic rescue operation of Aleppo’s last Jewish family this past summer.
The Nov. 7 article originally began: “It was recently revealed that Israel special forces carried out a daring operation to rescue the last Jewish family in the Syrian city of Aleppo. . .” The article went on to falsely report:

Without how or with whom he coordinated his plans, Kahana set the wheels in motion for the IDF to make another tally in its history of saving stranded Jews, a list that already made its mark in Yemen and Ethiopia.

Once the time came, three soldiers knocked on the family’s front door.

CAMERA checked both with the IDF and with the Jewish Agency — the latter did play a role in the bringing the family to Israel — and both firmly denied any army involvement in the rescue operation.
Following correspondence from CAMERA’s Israel office, Arutz Sheva has corrected the article. As of this writing, the amended article now states:
The last Jewish family remaining in the Syrian city of Aleppo has been rescued in a daring operation, it has been revealed, as regime, rebel and Islamic State forces continue fierce battles for control of the city. . . .
Without revealing precisely how or with whom he coordinated his plans, Kahana set the wheels in motion for the latest dramatic rescue of stranded Diaspora Jews by the State of Israel.
Once the time came, three rescuers – whose identities have not been revealed – knocked on the family’s front door.
According to The Times of Israel report, those who came to collect the family at their home were Syrian Muslims. The article states:
“Moti Kahana did not go in all Special Forces and put them on my back and take them out,” said Kahana, 47. “It was good Syrians who did it. It’s really important to understand that – it was the Muslim people who helped save the Jews.” (The Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Absorption also assisted in the rescue.)
In a separate issue, Arutz Sheva’s original article incompletely reported the details about one of the daughters who had converted to Islam before marrying a Muslim and therefore could not come to Israel under the Law of Return. According to the original text:

One woman, who is referred to as Gilda, was married to a Muslim man and had converted to Islam. While the rest of the family quickly received Israeli identity cards and resettled in Ashkelon, the Jewish Agency informed Gilda that people who voluntarily convert to a religion other than Judaism lose their right of return.

According to Kahana, the two chose to return to Syria rather than remain in a Syrian refugee camp inside of Turkey. He says that he is still working to get them out again, but he is less optimistic about a second operation.

“I am so frustrated with the Sochnut [CAMERA note: Jewish Agency],” he told the Jewish Chronic “They said she is not Jewish enough for us. The Israelis have been trying to hide this story. They screwed up.”

A representative of the Jewish Agency confirmed that Gilda and her husband could not make aliyah because she had converted to Islam, and that the Interior Ministry gave the final order on the case.

After CAMERA pointed out to Arutz Sheva that the Jewish Agency offered Gilda suggestions for other means of coming to Israel, as reported in Haaretz, editors commendably added the following key information:
However, Jewish Agency spokesman Yigal Palmor said they had been given alternative options to enter Israel, for example by applying for a tourism visa in Istanbul – but the couple declined the offer.

Contrary to standard journalistic practice, editors did not note the changes to the stories.

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