Gov’t to Tell All on Missing Yemenite Kids

Jewish Yemenite immigrants seen seen arriving at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv on June 20, 2012. Photo by Moshe Shai/FLASH90
Jewish Yemenite immigrants seen arriving at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv in 2012. (Moshe Shai/Flash90)

The government is set to approve the release of hundreds of thousands of documents that will shed light on the fate of the children of Yemenite families who went missing in the early days of the state. The documents were recently discovered in the state archives, and apparently contain explosive details on the alleged kidnapping of hundreds of children of immigrant families from Yemen, who were told by hospitals that their children had “died,” although their remains were never handed over.

The scandal of the missing Yemenite children goes back to the early days of the state. In hundreds and even thousands of documented cases, Yemenite women who were told that their children had died in childbirth in state hospitals. The bodies were never recovered, however, leading many people to suspect that their babies had not died, but had been kidnapped.

The purpose of the alleged kidnapping has been the subject of many conspiracy theories, from supplying wealthy Israelis of European background who could not have their own children with babies to raise from birth, to allegations that the children were used as subjects in radiation experiments conducted by Israel at the behest of the U.S. government. Some parents claimed that they attempted to disinter the remains of their children to have them reburied at family plots, but were either told that the location of the graves had been “lost,” or that their child had been buried in a mass grave and that it would be impossible to track down their child’s remains.

Governments throughout the years have either ignored or denied the allegations, claiming that the children died because of polio and other childhood diseases rife during the 1950s. At least four investigative committees have discussed the matter, but all ended their work without drawing specific conclusions. Government Minister Tzachi Hanegbi is behind the latest activity to release the information, and is the first to convince the Mossad and other organizations to release key information about the fate of the children.