Following a new wave of protest by Yemenite Jews, the Israeli government appointed Minister without Portfolio Tzachi Hanegbi, of Yemenite background himself, to investigate allegations of baby-stealing by state welfare and medical agencies in the 1950s. Following his appointment, Hanegbi proudly announced that he had also obtained approval for the investigation from Shin-Bet and Mossad"
Figure 1: Yemenite children in a tent camp in Israel circa 1950.
Figure 2: Post World War II refugees arriving in Israel from Europe.
OccupyTLV, August 20 -- for decades, Yemenite Jews in Israel levelled accusations that during the early decades of the state, authorities stole their babies. Typically, they have been dismissed even recently as conspiracy theories. [i] Now the matter will be investigated again -- this time around, apparently with Shin-Bet and Mossad approval".
The typical cases were of large, impoverished families, where a new baby was born. The parents were told in the hospital that the baby died, but never got to see the body. Other cases involved families in transit immigrant camps, whose babies needed to be hospitalized. Again, they were told by medical or welfare personnel that the babies died, but were never shown a body, no death certificates were issued, and no graves were identified. Yemenite Jews alleged that such babies were kidnapped and given for adoption in Israel and abroad.
The issue was first raised in 1950 by an association of Yemenite Jews. Initial government response was typical - classifying the records.
The issue was the subject of both official and unofficial investigations in the 1960s and 1980s. Hundreds of cases were reviewed. In some cases it was established that the babies were indeed given for adoption in Israel. In other cases it was suspected that they were given for adoption abroad. Numerous cases were categorized as "missing babies". Yemenite Jews considered the previous investigations more of the cover-up.
In the past it was claimed that the practice was applied only to Yemenite Jews, and racism was inferred as a motive. [ii] However, very recent reports raise claims that the practice was more widespread, also applied to families of holocaust survivors. [iii] The affair has even gained some recent international media attention. [iv]
Demand for a true investigation has gained momentum again -- campaigns on social networks was the hallmark. In response, Prime Minister Netanyahu yielded and issued Twitter and Facebook messages, consenting to a new investigation. It's the new form of direct democracy in Israel.
On June 15, 2016 Netanyahu announced that Minister without portfolio Tzach Hanegbi was designated to head the new investigation, and later it was reported that he was formally appointed by the Israeli government.
Tzachi Hanegbi is a member of the ruling Likud party, and of Yemenite background himself. Therefore, his appointment was intended to lend credibility to the new investigation. (Hanegbi has some credibility issues on other accounts, including conviction of perjury in a case that originated in dozens of nefarious, political appointments to government jobs, including some fictitious jobs. Hanegbi also was subject of other criminal investigations, including a 1997 case, where it was alleged that he was the key actor in a deal, involving Netanyahu as well, where attempt was made to appoint a new Attorney General, who would close a bribing investigation against key coalition partner - cabinet minister Aryeh Deri -- later convicted and imprisoned on other corruption matters, now again serving as Interior Minister in Netanyahu's cabinet...)
With it, Hanegbi served in key government positions, including Minister of Justice, and Chairman of the powerful Knesset Committee on Foreign and Security Affairs.
On such background, Arutz Sheva (also known as Israel National News), an Israeli media network identifying with Religious Zionism, broadcast on August 17, 2016 an interview with Hanegbi, where he stated that he had obtained permission from the Shin-Bet and Mossad for his new investigation of the Yemenite baby-stealing scandal. [v]
Hanegbi explained in the interview, that in some of the related files, which he had already been exposed to, there were references to activities of the Mossad and names of Mossad personnel.
In Israel, no one seemed to question the need for Shin-Bet and Mossad approval of investigation into the conduct of welfare and medical personnel some 50 years ago, after the investigation had been decided by the cabinet" or the involvement of Mossad and Shin-Bet in the baby-stealing scandal in the first place" The situation is particularly striking on the background of claims of lack of Shin-Bet involvement in matters, where it should have been involved, or matters, where Shin-Bet was apparently involved in criminality. [vi]