Protesters Call on Israel to Recognize Abductions of Yemenite Children

About 1,500 demonstrators demand government recognition of the abduction of Yemenite Jewish children in period just after Israel’s founding

Members of the Yemenite community and others protest in Jerusalem for the government to recognize what they call  the kidnapping of Yemenite children in the early years of Israel, June 21, 2017.
Emil Salman

Some 1,500 to 2,000 people rallied in downtown Jerusalem on Wednesday evening to demand that the government acknowledge that young children born in the early years of the state to Jews who immigrated from Yemen were abducted.

Speakers at the protest, which disrupted traffic on King George Street, included relatives of the children involved.

The protesters were joined by Knesset members and other politicians.

In recent months, the families of Yemenite immigrant families who had children who disappeared have stepped up their efforts to have the government investigate the children’s fate.

Members of the Yemenite community and others protest in Jerusalem for the government to recognize the kidnapping of Yemenite children in the early years of Israel, June 21, 2017.
Emil Salman

Organizations including a group called Amram, which focuses on children from immigrant families from Yemen, the Balkans and elsewhere, and another group called Ahim Vekayamim, are demanding that the government not make do with releasing classified documents from the state archives on the subject, as was done about six months ago. Instead they are demanding that the government do more to get at the truth.

Amram is demanding recognition from the state of the abductions. It also calls for the name of Rabbi Uzi Meshulam, who fought in 1994 for the disclosure of the children’s fate, to be cleared. Meshulam led a group of activists who barricaded themselves in a home in Yehud over the abduction affair, and served time in prison for resisting law enforcement.

The battle to recognize the abductions was resumed also due to the activity of the special committee looking into the affair, headed by MK Nurit Koren (Likud), which is continuing to expose the injustices some of the families have been subjected to.

Recently the committee discussed allegations of medical experiments conducted on the children of families who immigrated from Yemen.

Yemenite Jewish children at a transit camp in Aden await transferred to Israel, December 1949.
David Eldan/GPO

This week Koren called to revoke the conclusions of the Kedmi Commission, which had been tasked with probing the disappearance of over 1,000 Yemenite children in the 1950s. The committee concluded in 2001 that no evidence for institutionalized child abduction had been found, contrary to the families’ claims.

Some six months ago the State Archives published, at the cabinet’s instruction, secret protocols of the commission’s debates, revealing even more shocking details relating to the disappeared children.

Now, half a year after the secret protocols have come to light, the families are demanding to open the graves, in which many of the children were buried, according to the state’s registrations between 1948 and 1954, and to conduct DNA tests on the bones to ascertain if the children whom the authorities say had died of diseases were indeed buried.

The families are also demanding to open the adoption files from those years, in a bid to substantiate their claim that many children who were abducted and put up for adoption.