Saturday, 15 March 2014

Yemenite Children Affair :Disappearance of Babies and Toodlers Mystery

Between the years 1948 to 1954 thousands of babies and toddlers disappeared from immigrant absorption and transit camps throughout Israel and from the transit camp Hashed in Yemen. The affair is based on the claims of many parents that their children were taken away from them, while they were in the hospital, and the parents never received reliable information about their fates. Parents who were present and refused consent reported that camp authorities forcefully took their children from them, even acting violently.

Later testimonies revealed that a typical scenario was as follow: a baby was declared ill and taken to the hospital despite parental assertion that the child was healthy.the ostensibly ill baby was then taken to one of several institutions around the country,such as Wizo, an international women's organization with recovery centers in Safad, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The parents were then told their babies had died, even as state institutional workers later testifed that these  "parents were not interested in their children." A series of investigations established that health care officials had failed to notify families of their children's death at a time when the country was overwhelmed by a massive influx of refugees.

“We used to leave in the hospital healthy babies; the next day I would ask them ‘where are the babies?’ and they said they are gone. They died. What do you mean died? They were healthy. Nothing was wrong with them. Today when they say that they died, it’s not true. They were sent for adoption, mostly to the U.S.”

(Nurse Ruja Kuchinski, 1996)
The day my aunt Hammama emigrated from Yemen to Israel in 1949, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy. When she returned from the hospital to the immigrant camp in Rosh Ha’ayin, the nurse who accompanied her in the ambulance held the baby in her arms and told my aunt to step down. When my aunt turned her back, the ambulance and drove off. She never saw her baby again.

My father, himself a Jewish immigrant from Yemen, said he and the rest of the family rushed to the scene minutes after they heard my aunt’s cry. He told me the story when I was a little girl, but only years later did I understand the magnitude and ramifications of this traumatic event. When I became a reporter, I heard similar stories from many families of Yemenite and other nonEuropean ethnic groups. I learned that hundreds of Jewish families in the state of Israel were carrying this tragic narrative in their memory.

Allegations that children disappeared
Many of the complaints have common characteristics:

  • Almost all the missing children were under the age of three, they were the children of new immigrants who were less than a year in Israel and who arrived at the newly founded country in the immigration waves of those years (see also Operation Magic Carpet), and almost all were descendants of Mizrahi Jews—especially descendants of immigrants from Yemen.
  • Almost all disappeared while in hospitals or when they were allegedly taken to hospitals.
  • Almost all the parents received only a spoken explanation, that their children had died. The spoken message was only given to the parents when they inquired about the cause of their children's disappearance and in most instances they were told of their child's sudden death only after the funeral (or the alleged funeral) was held in their absence. In addition, the death records were incomplete and many parents never received a death certificate stating the death of their children.
  • Almost all the parents of the children who disappeared were given a recruitment order from the Israel Defense Forces at a time when their children were supposed to approach the age of recruitment.
Even then, some suspected the worst. It was rumored that guests from the U.S. had visited the Baby Clinics with medical personnel, and they had looked over the babies -- after which many of the babies had disappeared.

Yemenite parents began to resist giving up their children. They wrote hundreds of letters to the police, government ministries, and even the prime minister David Ben Gurion's office. The replies were laconic or evasive: "We'll check it up" and "Your request was filed and will be attended to."

No comments:

Post a Comment