My son, Yehya Fareed Cohen, was born in 1950. We emigrated to Israel from Baghdad on June 6, 1951, when he was six months old. We lived in Saqiya A Transit Camp, today's Or Yehuda. Shortly before his first birthday, while we were with my mother at Ein Shemer, Yehya got burnt by hot water splashed on him. My mother insisted on taking him to the hospital in Ein Shemer, which was within a walking distance from the hut where she had been living. At the hospital they took him and wouldn’t let us go in.They insisted we must leave and go back home. The boy was in excellent condition, he waved goodbye from the window and laughed at us. The next day we got to the hospital. Once again we were not allowed to enter and again, he waved goodbye, laughed at us, but was kept there for some reason. The next day they called my mother and told her he had died. They said that the child was young, and that because we were new immigrants, they had already taken care of the funeral arrangements and burial, so to speak. We asked no questions and it didn’t occur to us that we deserved answers.
Our son Yehya, though of Iraqi origin, was fair in appearance, exceptionally smiley, and incredibly sweet, and I'm not just saying it as his mother. In all the years since then, we could not help but think how a child who was in excellent health, lively and smiley, could suddenly die. Neither I nor his father, who is dead by now, blessed be his memory, have any doubt that our beloved child has fallen victim to this painful affair of the children from Yemen, the East and the Balkans.
About 20 years ago, encouraged by our other two children and their spouses, we looked for a grave in the cemetery of Kibbutz Ein Shemer. Needless to say, we could not find one. When he reached 17 we too, his sorrow-ridden parents, received a draft order addressed to him. Therefore, we tried to find a death certificate in the Ministry of the Interior. But to no avail.
I hope the truth comes out, so that I know he is alive and happy, wherever he is. This may be of some consolation for the years of longing and suffering that we have endured all our lives.
At the hospital they admitted him but would not let us in. They claimed we had to leave and go back home. The boy was in excellent condition—he waved goodbye to us from the window and laughed. We returned to the hospital the next day. Once again we were not allowed to enter and again, he waved goodbye and laughed, but was not discharged for some reason. The next day they called my mother and told her he had died.
We looked for a grave in the Kibbutz Ein Shemer cemetery. Needless to say, we could not find one. When he reached 17 we too, his sorrow-ridden parents, received a draft order addressed to him. Because of this we tried to find a death certificate at the Ministry of the Interior—to no avail. I hope the truth comes out and that I learn that my son is alive and happy, wherever he may be. Maybe that would be a small consolation for the years of longing and suffering that we have endured our whole lives.