Israeli government agrees to open up Yemen child’s grave

The latest development in the saga of the ‘disappeared Yemenite children’ is the  ‘ground-breaking’ decision by the Israeli Health Ministry to open up the grave of a baby who died in 1952. Meanwhile the unpublished findings of a report alleging that medical staff were implicated in the maltreatment of children, primarily from Yemen,  were disputed at a stormy Knesset hearing this week. The Israeli government last year approved a NIS 162 million (almost $50 million) compensation programme to families who lost children. The Times of Israel reports:

Yemenite children with the Alaska Airlines plane which airlifted Jews to Israel (Photo: AJM)

The Health Ministry said Sunday that it is preparing to open the grave of a baby who died in 1952 next week to confirm to the boy’s surviving family of Yemenite immigrants that he really is buried there, and was not spirited away from them 64 years ago.

The planned procedure will mark the first time that a grave is opened for DNA testing in the Yemenite children affair, the decades-old claim by immigrants who arrived from Yemen that their children and siblings were kidnapped from them as babies in the 1950s.

The child is Uziel Houri, and he is buried in the Segula cemetery in the central city of Petah Tikvah. Five families related to Houri asked for and received a court order permitting the exhumation.

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A Knesset Health Committee meeting on Monday turned turbulent during a discussion over an unpublished Health Ministry report, which alluded to medical staff wrongdoing in the so-called Yemenite children affair, with calls to reveal its findings publicly.

During the committee meeting, a Health Ministry legal adviser rejected the unpublished report by former ministry deputy director general Prof. Itamar Grotto that indicated a history of medical staff involvement in the maltreatment of children from Yemen, North Africa and the Balkans during the early years of the State of Israel.

The legal adviser, Meir Broder, instead adopted the criticism of Prof. Shifra Schwartz, a history of medicine researcher, who denied Grotto’s findings of potential medical staff involvement. Broder’s denial of Grotto’s report created a storm at the meeting.

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