Syria family flee to Israel

By Shira Rubin, July 10, 2014

A mixed Jewish-Muslim family has escaped from Syria to Israel, the first such instance since the civil war began three years ago.

Their journey, which took weeks, involved passing checkpoints manned both by regime forces and rebel militias, the Jerusalem Post reported on Thursday after a gag order was lifted.

Their escape, which involved navigating territory controlled by the Sunni jihadi group, the Islamic State, was made possible by arrangements made between Moti Kahana, an American-Israeli businessman, and moderate members of the Syrian opposition.

"They said they wanted to go home [Israel], and that they had never felt at home," said Mr Kahana.

Two members of the family set out first and were eventually joined by the remaining seven in a country neighbouring Syria, where Mr Kahana met them and offered them residency in that country, in the US, or in Israel.

The rescue operation was facilitated in conjunction with the Israeli NGO Israel Flying Aid, as well as the Israeli Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Absorption.

The family, made up of three generations, is currently living in a absorption centre near Tel Aviv and some have recently begun new jobs, though they asked to remain unidentified.

Their goal now is to blend into Israeli society, said Mr Kahana, who is in touch with them on a regular basis.

Last updated: 4:45pm, July 10 2014