Haim and Sara Yaakov

His name was Zecharya. He was three years old when he had stomach pain. His young mother Zahra (Sarah), who had immigrated to Israel just a few years earlier from Yemen and settled in Kiryat Ata, took him to the local clinic so that a doctor could examine him.

“Take him to the hospital,” the doctor ordered.

Zahra did as he said and went to Rambam Hospital. In the evening she returned home to take care of her other children, looking forward to seeing her son again the next day.

When she arrived at the hospital she found an empty bed. The medical staff told her that her son was dead. Zahra was upset and demanded to see her child, who only a day earlier suffered from a stomach ache. She was yelled and screamed, not believing that he had passed away, but her protestations were in vain. They took her and her husband, Haim, through the dirty corridors and showed them a block of ice, telling them that was their son. To this day they never saw a death certificate.

Sarah could not put her mind to rest. A mother, in the span of one day, loses her son to a stomach ache. She did not believe it but they insisted: the boy was dead.

Any attempt to find a grave or any medical record over the years has failed. To the day they died Zahra and Haim, blessed be their memory, could not believe it. They could not find peace.

There were other children, other things to take care of. But Zecharya was gone. And he has remained gone to this day. The records of the Ministry of Interior remain concealed and no record has been found, except for a small asterisk next to the word “Confidential.”

Zecharya is my uncle, my late father’s youngest brother, who disappeared in the middle of one cruel night. The Yemenite children (as well as children from other countries) are nothing but a shameful, embarrassing, outrageous, infuriating memory of a dark age. A cynical exploitation of innocent people who came to settle the holy land and met face to face with its ugly side. It’s time we put an end to this. I hope you’re still alive, my uncle Zecharya, and that one day I will get to see your face. For my grandfather Haim and my grandmother Zahra, blessed be their memories. For the uncles. And for my father, blessed be his memory.