Avraham and Sarah Shimon

The kidnapping: I conceived and gave birth to our second child, and we named him Yosef. He grew for 10-12 months and then we came to Israel. We arrived at Rosh ha-Ayin. There, a nurse came and asked me to give her the child. "Bring him to me, it's winter, you're a little girl and can't look after him." She didn't want him to be left at home because it was cold in the winter, so she asked me to bring him. The female nurse was an Ozri and the male nurse a Badikhi, our own people from Sana'a.

She took him to the nursery, and he was still perfectly healthy. She came in the morning and every three hours I went there to breastfeed him. At 9PM I came again, and the boy was gone.

We lived in a tent, and there were long buildings like the army has [where they kept the children]. I went to look but the boy wasn't there. I cried, screamed and shouted. The nurse said they took him to Tel HaShomer hospital because he had a fever.

The next day we went to Tel HaShomer in a truck full of other people. They pushed into our hands a bag with buns, water, halva and jam. We went there...we were new immigrants, we didn't speak Hebrew, we had nothing - and they didn't send anyone with us except the driver. You go and figure it out, with just the driver. We went in but couldn't find anyone, not one person. We returned home, grandpa was silent and I cried, and we went on living. They told me maybe he died, maybe he’s alive, maybe here maybe there, but in the end the whole thing was a lie, they cheated us.

We moved from Rosh HaAyin to Talpiyot in Jerusalem, next to Katamon, they had shacks for immigrants there. We came with Uncle Yahya and our whole family, new immigrants. We stayed there, and ate using Yosef's ration card for a while. It was a sign he hadn't died, because they didn't revoke his card. For example when we travelled to Jerusalem, we travelled as Avraham, Sarah and Yosef, three people. We’d use his card to get food, and we spent some time in Jerusalem.

This happened to lots of people, that's why there were problems. I know he's alive, the army sent me his conscription orders. I am completely sure that he is alive. Sometimes we'd receive a letter and I'd say, "Here’s the letter from Yossi," just as a joke.


We went to court sessions a few times in Jerusalem, we went four times. It was just lots of talking, no help at all in the end. I told the judge, "How can we be three people here on the records and yet they tell me my child is dead?" What could he say? Can a judge be against another judge? He tried to cover it up somehow, he said he doesn't know. We said "What's this 'I don't know'? We use his card, it's proof he's alive."

Once, the nurse said that there were Ashkenazim who came to sit by the beds, give the kids toys and stuff. They'd see a healthy baby, give some money to the person in charge, take the child and go. They cheated us.

Someone from Tel HaShomer hospital called me, asked me whether it's Yosef Ben Avraham Shimon Halevi or Yosef Ibn Shimon. But I didn't take his phone number. He called again another time to ask if the boy was 12 or 11 months old, I said it doesn't matter whether he's a year old or 11 months it's the same thing. The committees gave us a plot for a grave in Petah Tikva.

I miss him, I still have the feeling he's alive, I feel it. He is somewhere. I miss him but I have no choice.

The above is from an interview with my grandmother Sarah that was given 6-7 years ago on her 80th birthday. Two years later she passed away. She would always talk about Yosef, because he is alive...

After her death the family produced a book to commemorate the life of my grandparents. Below is an excerpt about their son, Yosef Shimon, who disappeared.

My grandparents Avraham and the late Sarah Shimon of the Levi family immigrated to Israel from Sana'a, Yemen in 1949 together with their son Yosef who was 10-12 months old. A short time after they came to the Rosh HaAyin camp the baby Yosef was moved to a nursery and my grandmother Sarah came to breastfeed him every few hours, every day. One day when she came to the nursery she was told he'd been moved to Tel HaShomer hospital because he didn’t feel well.

My grandmother went to the hospital together with a group of mothers who were looking for their children, but she did not find Yosef. She spoke to a nurse in the nursery who told her it's possible Yosef had died. My grandparents never saw a body or a grave. She told us that for a whole year they continued to use his ration card to get food, so if he died there should be something written down about it and they would take his ration card away. Later, my grandmother also received a conscription order for Yosef. In her innocence she sent it back. Likewise, she sent all the documents she had in her possession to the Shalgi Inquiry, including Yosef's immigration certificate. The conclusion which the official investigative committee on the disappearance of Yemenite children sent to my grandparents in 2001 contained contradictions. In one place it said the committee had a hospital entry record for Avraham David Ben Shimon Yosef, which states that he died on October 12, 1949, but this was not the child's name... The cause of death was dysentery and myocarditis. They also said there was a hospital record stating Avraham Ben David Shimon Yosef died at the age of eight and a half months. Here again, neither the age nor the name is correct. Another article in the conclusion states that a death record was obtained for Yosef Avraham, who died of fatigue and pneumonia. Here, again, the name is incorrect and the cause of death contradicts what was given earlier.

The conclusion also stated that the committee possesses a burial license, that the body was taken to Petah Tikva for burial, but how can there be such a license if the parents were not aware of it and did not bury their child? Now it states that the child died from heart failure, fatigue and damage to the lungs... Again a contradiction in cause of death. Moreover it was written that the child was buried in a plot in the children's section of the Segola cemetery on October 13, 1949, in Row A and grave #41. How can it be that my grandparents were not present and nobody let them know their son was being buried? My grandparents did not even get the chance to sit shiva, they never saw a body or a grave. Later, when they were older, my mother, uncles and aunts went to this cemetery but could not find the burial plot referred to by the committee, nor was the name of the child written anywhere.

Odelia Shukrun

Once, the nurse said that there were Ashkenazim who came to sit by the beds, give the kids toys and stuff. They'd see a healthy baby, give some money to the person in charge, take the child and go