After three investigative commissions, the Yemenite children Affair refuses to die. Families whose children mysteriously disappeared in the early years of the state are preparing to sue the government and Jewish Agency. Moving report in Ynet News (with thanks: Boruch)
The last time Shoshana Nahshon saw her son, he was sound asleep.
The next day he disappeared, as did the next baby she gave birth to.
Salma Ozeri was able to save one son out of two. Riki Avivi Hindi, Rami
Hukayma and Havatzelet Asmi never got to meet their older siblings. They
only knew the pain of their disappearance. Now, Yemenite families whose
children disappeared are suing the State of Israel for reparations and
fighting to get their tragedy acknowledged, with the hope it might shed
some light on the mystery they have had to live with for their entire
Shoshana Nahshon: her ‘healthy’ son Salem was taken away
Despite years of denial, the tragedy of the Yemenite children refuses
to die. The stories that the families have been telling for decades
have started to come to life with the chilling revelations about how the
state acted. What really happened to the young children of Yemenite
Jews who arrived in Israel in the first years of the state? How many
children vanished? Where did they go?
Three investigative committees over the years have already looked
into the abductions of the Yemenite children. But none delivered
conclusive statements and all were heavily criticized for accepting
evidence that the children had died without further questions. It was
later discovered that many documents were either destroyed or never made
their way to court.
The 2001 report from the Kedmi Commission, set up in 1995 by late
prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, did make some progress: It determined
that, “69 children out of 800 are surely not deceased, and their fate is
unknown. These babies were given by their parents to hospitals or
children’s facilities and never returned. Some were taken by official
representatives in order to receive medical treatments or be
hospitalized and also never returned.” This is almost a confession when
coming from the state, whose official position was that nothing ever
But the committee’s final remark says it all: “This committee is sorry for the families’ loss.”
Lawyers who represent the families in their lawsuit against the state
and the Jewish Agency (which operated some of the immigration
facilities and process) said that this is the first time the families
have demanded answers, acknowledgment of what happened and reparations.
“These children were under the establishment’s care, and it was
determined (by the committee) that they were simply lost,” said one of
the lawyers. “An advanced country would voluntarily pay reparations,
instead of forcing them to sue. As is usual in such cases, the families
aren’t suing for a specific sum but will leave it to the courts. We
expect millions of shekels to be distributed among the families whose
The State Prosecutor’s Office said the lawsuit has not yet been filed and they therefore cannot comment at this stage.
“We were a part of the last wave of Yemenites to arrive. There was
already a rumour going around the transit camp that children were being
taken away, but we had just arrived so we didn’t know about it. Salem
was my eldest and I was pregnant for the second time when we arrived,
and my husband held him when we got off the plane so I wouldn’t have to
carry him. We were brought to the camp and were given a tent, and I fell
“When I got up in the morning Salem wasn’t there. I started screaming
‘where’s the boy? Where’s the boy?’ and my husband said he was sick.
‘Go to the hospital, you’ll see him there,’ he said, and I told him
‘What hospital? The boy is healthy!’