'If I left, no one would maintain the synagogue,' said Zabulon Simintov, the last known Jew living in country
Suhail Shaheen, the Taliban spokesman in Doha, Qatar, said minorities in Afghanistan will not be harmed, including the last of the country’s Jews believed to remain, Zabulon Simintov, according to Israel’s Kan news Tuesday.
“I do not know the last Jew," Suhail said, when asked by Kan regarding Simintov.
"We do not harm minorities,” he added. “There are Sikhs and Hindus in the country, and they can practice their religion."
Kan news identified itself by name, without mentioning its Israeli origin.
“I do many interviews with journalists every day after the falling of provincial centers of Afghnistan and the capital Kabul to the Islamic Emirate,” Shaheen later tweeted -- “some journalists, maybe masquerading but I haven’t done an interview with anyone introducing himself that he is from the Israeli media.”
Shaheen is in Doha, Qatar, as part of negotiations with the defunct government that has fled the country.
The Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan has prompted the US, UK and other countries to send in forces to secure the evacuation of their nationals, as well as bringing Afghans out of the country. Footage from the Kabul airport shows swarms of Afghans attempting to be rescued by US transports.
“I will not leave my home,” Simintov told the India-based WION network, according to a report Tuesday. “If I had left, there would have been no one to maintain the synagogue. I had the opportunity to leave for the US but wasn’t interested."
Simintov has said that the Taliban in the past had tried to convert him, even going to prison four times. The rest of his family lives in Israel.
Some 5,000 Jews once lived in Afghanistan, yet numbers dwindled after the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948.