Najia and Yehezkel Totonji

Herzl Ziv, telling about twins Ezra and Mashiah, his wife’s brothers, who disappeared from Tel Hashomer Hospital.

The parents are the late Najia and Yehezkel Totonji.

Year of immigration to Israel: 1950.

Twins’ names: Ezra and Mashiah.

Number of siblings: six siblings, not including twins Ezra and Mashiah. Names of siblings: Rachel, Judith, Shulamit, Moshe, Aviva, Ophir.

The twins' year of birth: 1950. Year of kidnapping: 1951.

The family came to Israel via Iran, where the twins were brought to after their birth in Iraq. Upon their arrival to Israel, the twins were less than one-year-old.

The family moved to one of the local settlements, probably Sha’ar Ha’Aliyah or somewhere nearby. Some people were following the family, keeping an eye on them and making all these provocations. They repeatedly provoked the father, on more than one occasion.

For example, when the family would come to collect food stamps, in order to get their food, they used to stand in line and someone would always jump the queue, pushing and taunting them time and again.

On one occasion, when someone who provoked the father received a push in return, the father told the provocateur: "Why do you keep jumping the queue and pushing?”

We knew all along that this had been premeditated.

Someone from the harassing gang had already been there, they called the police and the father, Yehezkel, was arrested.

At this point, the mother Najia went to the police station to check on her husband.

The children were staying with their grandmother, and then those people came to the house and took the twins. They most probably followed a plan and used the opportunity while the children had been left alone with the elderly grandmother, who did not understand Hebrew, when the parents were not around, and they told her they were taking the twins for medical care.

When the parents returned and asked where the children were, the grandmother said that people with the state had come and told her they were to be taken for medical care.

The parents immediately went out looking for the children and were told that they had been hospitalized in Tel Hashomer and died. The parents insisted that their children were healthy and could not be dead. They insisted on seeing the bodies, and were shown a child that looked nothing like their children, a single child of brown-toned skin.

It was clear to them this was not their son. Ezra and Mashiah were fair-skinned and one of them had light brown hair.

The parents spoke no Hebrew and struggled to understand and demand explanations.

They received no official notification from Chevra Kadisha (the Jewish burial society).

They got no death certificate or information regarding the place of burial.

Years later the Twins received draft orders and were declared deserters. The parents kept receiving notices until they informed the army that the children were not in their custody.

After being informed that their children were deserters, the father went to the recruiting office. It became an all the more traumatic experience for him when he realized, on the one hand, they were threatening to come and arrest them, and on the other, that the children were alive; that this was a premeditated action of kidnapping the children in order to give them to other families. Every sensible person would see that this was a kidnapping and that the children were given to other families.

We really can’t wait for the archives to be opened: can it be that the kidnapping, the removal from one place to another, are all documented?

The family never addressed the investigation committee, the parents never shared the information with their children, they heard about the disappearance of the brothers when they got older, from conversations their parents had with strangers. They [the parents] hid it in order to protect them: when you hear that one of your siblings was kidnapped, you start questioning everything, how did their life turn out?

This yearning to know as much as possible about them, it hurts.

The parents lived under this constant, everyday sadness. The father, Yehezkel Totonji, took the traumatic message hard, when the draft orders came, followed by his children’s pronouncement as defectors, and he realized there was no doubt they were alive. He passed away in the 1970s. He died too young, at the age of 48, of a broken heart.

We want to look for them and find out what happened to them.

In an effort to locate them, we figured out, based on the ID number, that one of the twins had left the country in 1976, probably to the US.