Afghanistan’s last Jew lands in Istanbul after a month in Pakistan

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Afghanistan’s last Jew lands in Istanbul after a month in Pakistan

Zebulan Simantov wants to travel to Israel, where he has relatives including five siblings and two daughters

Michael Daventry is Jewish News’s foreign and broadcast editor

Afghanistan’s last Jew is now in Turkey and plans to travel on to Israel to see his relatives in the country.

Zebulan Simantov, 62, who left Kabul as the Taliban took control this summer and travelled by land to cross the border with Pakistan, hopes to arrive in Israel as early as next week.

He had lived in Afghanistan under the previous Taliban regime between 1996 and 2001, when Islamic officials were aware of his religious identity.

But this time Simantov was advised that his life was under threat from the Islamic State organisation, which has already claimed responsibility for several fatal terror attacks in the country.

He was flown to Istanbul with the help of businessman Moti Kahana and the non-profit Tzedek Association.

Simantov, who is also known as Zebulon Simentov, has applied to the Israeli consulate in the Turkish city after agreeing to grant a Jewish divorce, or get, to his estranged wife.

His journey to Israel could have run into legal difficulties if he had not granted the get.

He has many relatives, including five siblings and two daughters, already in Israel.

Rabbi Moshe Margaretten from the Tzedek Association told the Associated Press: “We are relieved we were successful in helping Zebulon Simentov escape from Afghanistan and now into safety in Turkey.

“Zebulon’s life was in danger in Afghanistan.”

It is unclear how long it will take for Simantov to be allowed entry into Israel.

Israeli foreign ministry officials told local media that they were unaware of a travel application.

Turkey is also on Israel’s red list for coronavirus restrictions, meaning most non-Israelis cannot visit from there.

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