The Affair – The Yemenite, Mizrahi and Balkan Children Affair

In the early years of the State of Israel, and especially in the fifties, thousands of babies and toddlers disappeared from their families – families of immigrants who came to Israel and were housed in transit and absorption camps. About two-thirds of the children were from families of Yemenite immigrants.

According to low estimates, in those years every eighth child of a Yemenite family disappeared. The remaining third of the children were from other Mizrachi families – Tunisian, Moroccan, Libyan, Iraqi and others – and a small number were children of families who immigrated from the Balkans. Thousands of testimonies by parents indicate a similar method: parents were asked to give their children to nurseries or hospitals under the pretext that there “they will be given more appropriate care.”

Sometimes children were violently taken by social workers or nurses, placed in ambulances and forcibly transferred to these institutions. The parents were not allowed to stay with their children and were told to go home and to return only to breastfeed their babies. A few days later the parents were told that their child had died. The parents never saw their child’s body and were not allowed to take their child to be buried.

In many cases, parents did not receive a death certificate or received it much later, retroactively. A few dozen children were returned to their parents after the latter’s fierce protests, but the fate of most of the children is unknown. Many appeals to law enforcement agencies, government offices and various officials were unsuccessful. The children were not located and proof of their deaths was not found. On the contrary: some of them were found years later in the bosom of other families.

The Affair – The Yemenite, Mizrahi and Balkan Children Affair