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Most of Yemenite Jews had never seen an aircraft before, but they believed in the Biblical prophecy: according to the Book of Isaiah (40:31) and Exodus (19:1), God promised to return the Children of Israel to Zion "on wings of eagles".

Operation Magic Carpet is a widely-known nickname for Operation On Wings of Eagles, an operation between June 1949 and September 1950 that brought 49,000 Yemenite Jews to the new state of Israel.[1] British and American transport planes made some 380 flights from Aden, in a secret operation that was not made public until several months after it was over. At some point, the operation was also called Operation Messiah's Coming.


Following the 1947 UN Partition Plan, Muslim rioters engaged in clashes in Aden that killed 82 people and destroyed a number of Jewish homes. Early in 1948, accusations of the murder of two Muslim Yemeni girls led to looting of Jewish property. Aden's Jewish community was economically paralyzed, as most of the Jewish stores and businesses were destroyed.

The Operation

In response to an increasingly perilous situation, most of the Yemenite Jewish community secretly emigrated to Israel between June 1949 and September 1950 in Operation Magic Carpet. A smaller, continuous migration was allowed to continue into 1962, when a civil war put an abrupt halt to any further Jewish exodus. Some wealthy Jewish families who doubted promises of a better future in Israel decided not to leave their properties, and a total of some 300 Jews remained in Yemen.

During the course of Operation Magic Carpet (1949–1950), the overwhelming majority of Yemenite Jews - some 47,000 Yemeni, 1500 Aden as well as 500 Djiboutian and Eritrean Jews - were airlifted to Israel. Most of them had never seen an aircraft before. They left their religious ways of life as farmers and adopted a totally new way of life in a new world.[2] [3][4][5][6]

The operation's official name originated from two relevant biblical passages:

  • Exodus 19:4 - "You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I bore you on wings of eagles, and brought you to Myself."
  • Book of Isaiah 40:31 - "But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Since they had never seen aircraft before, many of the immigrants were extremely scared and refused to board, but were assured when reminded of these verses by their rabbi.

Operation Magic Carpet was the first in a series of operations whose purpose was to transport entire communities of Jews from Arab countries to Israel en masse during the 1950s and 1960s.


  1. ^ "Start of Operation Magic Carpet - November 8, 1949". Retrieved 2009-11-13. "One of the most dramatic mass immigrations of people was the Jews of Yemen through Operation “Magic Carpet”. For hundreds of years, this community within Yemen was no stranger to persecution and hate. In May 1949, the Imam of Yemen agreed to “release” 45,000 of the 46,000 members of the Yemenite Jewish community." 
  2. ^ The Sad Story
  3. ^ Daat
  4. ^ Hebrew Wikipedia about the Subject
  5. ^ Blog
  6. ^ A Website of Yemenite Jews including Videos


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