In 1949 the waves of immigration brought many of the Jewish diaspora to their safe harbor, Israel, and my grandparents immigrated from Yemen as part of “Operation Magic Carpet”. A few months before, a rumor spread through town that Jews from Israel had arrived in the Gulf of Aden to take them and bring them to Israel.
Grandpa and Grandma left everything behind in their home country and began their journey to Israel. During the long way to Israel they were in constant fear of nearby residents, despite having good relationships with their neighbors for many years. Moreover, the road was painful and cost lives. On their way to Israel, Grandpa and Grandma lost their daughter, Esther, who passed away from an unknown disease at only four years of age. Esther was buried somewhere in the desert sands on their way to Aden. Their firstborn, Binyamin, had died on the day of his circumcision a few years before. For a few weeks, Grandpa and Grandma, together with their extended family, waited tensely and impatiently at the Gulf of Aden for the plane that would take them to the promised land.
Upon their arrival in Israel, Grandpa and Grandma were housed in the immigrant camp in Ein Shemer. About two months after their arrival, their son Zion was born in the Rambam hospital in Haifa. The baby was placed in the transit camp nursery along with around fourteen other babies of women living in the transit camp. The idea of separating children from their parents at night was not familiar to Grandma, but, since it was cold and there were snowstorms in those years, she decided to leave the baby at the nursery. In the following three weeks, Grandma would arrive at the nursery to breastfeed Zion at specified times. There already were rumors regarding baby kidnappings, and Grandma, out of concern, decided to stay with Zion as much as possible and sleep on a chair beside his bed.
One day, two women and a man who identified as a medical team arrived at the nursery. Grandma approached a Yemenite girl who was voluntarily taking care of babies at the nursery, and asked her to find out what they were doing there. The team members claimed that they were taking the babies for a check-up in Be’er-Ya’akov and will bring them back after one to three weeks. Grandma watched the team taking all fourteen babies from the nursery to the ambulance standing outside and felt that something odd was happening. She decided to keep Zion and was hoping to hide until they leave the nursery, but it didn’t take long before the team was back. The two women and man reached Grandma and snatched Zion the baby from her very hands. The women held her arms and the man took Zion from her hands.
Ever since that day, the tracks of Zion and the other fourteen babies from the nursery have disappeared. Grandma, an energetic, assertive, and a very intelligent woman, did not give up. She, and the rest of the women whose children were kidnapped from the nursery spoke to the transit camp staff every day, asking to know where their babies were. They did so daily for several months after the kidnapping, until they left the transit camp in Ein Shemer. Since their demands were not addressed, Grandma kept looking for Zion by other means. Throughout the years, Grandma and other family members tried to locate Zion by many diverse ways: the Search Bureau for Missing Relatives, testifying before official commissions of inquiry, giving interviews to radio shows and the [investigative] TV show “Uvda.”
The Yemenite children affair has been brought to public attention and has received media exposure a few times in the past. As a result, four different commissions of inquiry have been formed. No commission has yielded any results or findings. In fact, the affair remains open until this very day.
The two women and man reached Grandma and snatched Zion the baby from her very hands. The women held her arms and the man took Zion from her hands.Ever since that day, the tracks of Zion and the other fourteen babies from the nursery have disappeared
She, and the rest of the women whose children were kidnapped from the nursery spoke to the transit camp staff every day, asking to know where their babies were. They did so daily for several months after the kidnapping, until they left the transit camp in Ein Shemer. Since their demands were not addressed, Grandma kept looking for Zion by other means