Four MKs reveal family members, friends among missing in Yemenite Children Affair

"If my siblings are still alive, it is important to me to meet them"

June 21, 2016 19:54
2 minute read.
jewish yemen

JEWISH IMMIGRANTS from Yemen in 1950 after their arrival to Israel. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Four MKs stepped forward on Tuesday to say that friends or members of their family were among those who went missing in the Yemenite Children Affair.

The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee met for a discussion on the declassification of sealed protocols of the State Commission of Inquiry into the affair, initiated by MK Meir Cohen (Yesh Atid).

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MK Nava Boker revealed that her parents, who have since passed away, told her that she had lost a brother and sister in the affair.

“If my siblings are still alive, it is important to me to meet them,” she said. “I am afraid that the same people who planned and executed these crimes of ripping babies away from their mothers’ arms, ensured their own safety and hid the documents. I expect that the seal will be removed and that we can know what happened to these children.”

The affair, which occurred during the early days of the establishment of the state, saw hundreds of babies and toddlers of families of Mizrahi descent, mostly from Yemen, mysteriously disappear.

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

Over the years families have claimed that their children were in fact kidnapped and given away or sold off to Ashkenazi families.

Over the past few decades, the government established a number of commissions to investigate the matter and expose the truth, though all had failed to do so, concluding that the majority of children had in fact died in the hospital.

However, in 2001, the state commission decided to seal numerous documents until 2071, a move that has drawn intense criticism from the families, NGOs and MKs.

MKs Rachel Azaria, Yossi Yona, and Nurit Koren, who has led the charge to declassify the documents, all revealed they had relatives or acquaintances who were among the missing children.

Following the discussion, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted a video on Facebook in which he expressed solidarity with the MKs and the Yemenite families.

The issue of the children of Yemen is an “open wound” for many families searching for answers, the prime minister said.

Netanyahu said he could not fathom why the documents would be sealed and said that “it is time to discover what happened.” As such, he said that he instructed minister-without-portfolio Tzachi Hanegbi to probe whether the government should open the sealed files.

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