State Discloses 200,000 documents on the Missing Yemenite Children Affair
Yechiel Levi (Ahmar) turned in 1996 to the Cohen-Kedmi commission for investigating the disappearance of Yemenite children to find out what had happened to two brothers and one sister who disappeared in 1950. The family had been notified of their deaths though no actual bodies were ever brought for funerals.
“I ask of the honored committee to investigate what happened to my two brothers and my sister and uncover what was their true fate. My parents are now elderly people but me and my sister cannot find respite from the tragedy that befell us despite the 40 years that have passed since,” Levy wrote in his request.
Yechiel’s story is one of many documents released by the website launched by the Israeli government on Wednesday within the online State Archives uncovering some 200,000 documents related to accusations that the State of Israel had abducted Yemenite and Sephardic children during the early years of the country’s independence to be adopted by Ashkenazi (European) families.
Prime Minister Netanyahu claimed during the launching ceremony of the website that the state aimed at “righting a historical wrong. We are not willing to let this matter continue and so we decided on the principles of transparency and justice.” The ceremony was also attended by Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, MK Nurit Koren and State Archivist Dr. Ya’akov Lazovik.
The material to be released includes previously classified hearing protocols and evidence that was given in closed-door hearings before the Kedmi Commission in 2001, which originally rejected claims of state conspiracy. In June 2016, Minister Tazchi Hanegbi, in charge of National Security and Foreign Affairs, was appointed by Prime Minister Netanyahu to reopen the files for investigation.
The volume of material uncovered contains hundreds of thousands of pages. Every document is scanned, examined, cataloged, and rose to the website of the State Archives, accompanied by search tool.
“It’s just hard to imagine that for sixty years people did not know what had happened to their children,” claimed Netanyahu
“What will happen in a few minutes is that I will click on that keyboard and anyone will be able to reach hundreds of thousands of pages that contain all the information at the hands of the government of Israel, to permit to trace the fate of those children.”
According to Rivki Dvach, Head of the Justice Ministry’s Governmental Unit for the Freedom of Information, the website contained three main types of documents. The core material of the different commissions (protocols and personal files) who are to be fully released. Raw material are fully released given that they do not relate to particulars. Finally, documents relating to adoptions are to be released in accordance with authorizations given by the Court to protect the right to privacy.
Chairwoman of the Knesset Lobby for the Investigation of the Truth of the Missing Yemenite Children Affair, Likud MK Nurit Koren claimed: “ I welcome these opening minutes after months of struggle to expose the truth. I’m operating from within my blood , stories of children abducted from their families that won’t let me sleep, I feel obligated to every family as if they were my own family.”