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Rocket kills seven Bnei Menashe members near synagogue in India

The Knesset Diaspora Committee demanded the speedy aliyah of the community.

Newly arrived immigrants from India, members of the Bnei Menashe community, hold Israeli flags as they arrive at Ben-Gurion Airport, Nov. 21, 2006. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90.
Newly arrived immigrants from India, members of the Bnei Menashe community, hold Israeli flags as they arrive at Ben-Gurion Airport, Nov. 21, 2006. Photo by Nati Shohat/Flash90.

Seven members of the Bnei Menashe community were killed as a result of a missile striking near their synagogue in the northeastern Indian state of Manipur on Tuesday.

It’s not certain who fired the rocket and the attack was not believed to be specifically targeting the Jewish community, but rather part of ethnic-religious strife between the state’s majority Meitei Hindus and the Kuki tribe, which is mostly Christian but to which the Bnei Menashe belong, which began in May of last year.

The Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs discussed the dangerous situation facing the Bnei Menashe community on Tuesday, calling for accelerating their aliyah.

About 5,500 members of the Bnei Menashe community live in India and are waiting to immigrate to Israel. In the last decade, 4,121 members arrived in Israel, of whom 1,421 came in the last five years, the committee said in a statement.

“We must bring the Bnei Menashe community to Israel as soon as possible,” said MK Oded Forer, the committee’s chairman. “Bringing Jews to the State of Israel is a supreme value that cannot be measured in money.”

Forer’s colleagues echoed his position, demanding a faster response from the relevant ministries.

“There is a sense of foot-dragging in everything related to the treatment of the Bnei Menashe community,” said MK Pnina Tamano-Shata, chairwoman of the Knesset Caucus for Members of the Bnei Menashe Community in Israel and a former minister of immigrant absorption.

“This community does not have strong lobbyists to look after their interests,” she said. “Pressure needs to be applied on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Absorption so that they promote the immigration of the community.”

The Bnei Menashe, or “the Children of Manasseh,” claim descent from one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel who were exiled by the Assyrian Empire more than 27 centuries ago.

While they must undergo Orthodox conversion to be officially recognized as Jews in Israel, the government and religious authorities accept the Bnei Menashe’s claim as a “lost tribe.”

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