DNA tests on exhumed bones of Yemenite children won’t be easy

Seventeen families of Yemenite origin who claimed their children were stolen and put up for adoption without their permission will undergo DNA testing.

January 26, 2018 01:01
2 minute read.
Yemenite immigrants

Yemenite immigrants gather for a photo at Rosh Ha’ayin, in the early years of the state.. (photo credit: ILLUSTRATIVE: GPO FLICKR)


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It might be easier to identify prehistoric fossils than the bones buried 70 years ago of Yemenite immigrant babies who were allegedly kidnapped from hospitals, where it was claimed they died from illness.

But DNA experts at the L. Greenberg Institute of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir will do their best to match bones with families’ DNA.

Earlier this week, a bill by Likud MK Nurit Koren, who heads the Knesset Lobby on Yemenite Children, was passed on its first reading.

If passed on its third reading, the bones in several cemeteries – from Yemenite babies who mysteriously disappeared and allegedly died between 1948 and 1954 – will be exhumed and examined at Abu Kabir.

Seventeen families of Yemenite origin who claimed their children were stolen and put up for adoption without their permission will undergo DNA testing to try to be matched with the bones.

In 2016, the state declassified its archival material on the topic, but the issue continues to generate much controversy. Families found documents they never saw before, but many also found contradictory information or details that are different from those listed on the graves in which they were told their relatives were interred. Some of the families claim children were systematically taken without their parents’ consent and given to Ashkenazi families in Israel and abroad.
The Yemenite Affair )Gal Matana Dahari/Bar-Ilan University)

In the vast majority of cases, parents were told in the hospital that their newborn baby had died, though the families never received any official confirmation.

Dr. Nurit Bublil, head of the DNA lab at the forensic institute, told The Jerusalem Post in an interview on Thursday that there were many difficulties in studying and identifying the DNA of such babies.

“There are 17 families we have heard about through the media, but there are probably many more – even hundreds. It is hard to imagine that such a horrible thing took place. But I have a colleague at the institute who said his brother was kidnapped from a hospital. His mother went three times a day to breastfeed him,” she said.

“But one day she was told the baby had died. Yet she said he must be alive, because she had fed him that same morning. His big brother came to the hospital with a big stick and threatened hospital staff who found the baby and he took him home.”

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