State Commission: Missing Yemenite Babies Not Kidnapped

Moshe Reinfeld, Ha' Ha'aretz Service
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The state commission of inquiry into the disappearance of children during the mass emigration to Israel from Yemen, ruled Sunday that there was no basis to claims made that babies had been kidnapped by the Zionist establishment and that most of the children who disappeared had died.

The report published Sunday said that the deaths of the children had not been reported to their parents immediately and they had been buried without their parents being present.

The commission investigated over 800 incidents of missing infants and said that in 750 cases the children had died. There are 56 outstanding cases in which the fate of the infants remains unknown, though the commission said it was probable that they had been given up for adoption by social workers or had grown up in institutions.

The commission stated that the Jewish Agency was responsible for the disappearance of the children, as they had failed to maintain contact between the children and their families and to establish a procedure for reporting on infant deaths in situations where the parents were not present at the funeral.

The commission of inquiry is the third one set up to investigate the disappearance of the Yemenite children. The commission was headed by former Judge Ya'akov Kedmi. All three commissions investigated the disappearance of 1,030 infants.

The "Yemenite children" affair began in the first years of the state when hundreds of children of immigrants from Yemen disappeared. Their parents were informed that they had died and been buried in anonymous graves. They were never shown the bodies or a death certificate. Most of the cases occurred in the first two years of the state when many immigrant parents were forced to place their young children in children's homes because of the terrible conditions in the immigrant camps.