My name is Yona Basal. It used to be Hamama, but they changed our names here. In registration, they said those names are Arab names, so they changed mine to Yona. My husband was also renamed from Slaymen to Shlomo.
We arrived in Israel after spending some time in Hashed camp in Adan. Me and my husband got here alone, without any kids. I had a baby in Yemen, and he died on the way here. But him we buried with our own hands – we know he’s dead.
We arrived in Israel at end of 1948. Once we offboarded the plane we could see women coming with blankets, grabbing the kids from the other passengers – they took all kids with blankets, even kids aged six and seven. They didn’t return any of them. They sprayed us with Flit Spray (type of Insecticide) when we got there.
We spent 8 months in Ein Shemer, they had classes for women there, but my husband didn’t let me attend those as he was concerned that they’ll take me. They were taking the young women from the Yemeni community; my husband was afraid, as they took his sister. She was sick in Adan, and they told her husband to move forward without her and they’ll bring her later – they never did. So, I didn’t go to study.
I heard a lot about the abductions in Ein Shemer, everyone waited for the children who never showed up. A few of the mothers already died, but I know one of them who saw her child after a few years – he had an identifying mark. But he didn’t want any connection to them. After Ein Shemer we moved to Ajour, immediately after the war, there were Arab houses there – we got in and saw their homes and schools.
We lived in Ajour in 1951, when I had my first child – my husband delivered the baby, and we named him Abraham. When Abraham was one year old, in 1952, I had my second child, Zion, in Rehovot Maternity Hospital.
After exactly one year, I was pregnant and had my third child. My husband was in the military in Eilat at the time and I went to the Rehovot Maternity Hospital. The delivery was fine, the baby cried – they didn’t say there’s any problem and everything seemed to be in order.
The next day, everyone got their babies, and I was still waiting – they didn’t bring me my child. They told me he was dead. Why dead?? Why didn’t you tell me he’s dead when it happened? I want to see him. Dead. Dead, but I want to see. They didn’t let me. They said he was taken and that’s it. They didn’t even give me any papers or anything. That’s how they sent me away. And I cried and cried. I’m hurting for him, unlike the baby that died on the journey here. Even though me and his dad buried him together on the road here, I still feel bigger pain for this one that I lost here. Up until this day I’m looking at people in the street, searching for someone who looks like one of my other children.
Exactly one year later, in 1954, we were in Yavne, and I gave birth to my son Amnon at the Rehovot Maternity Hospital. They tried to take him away from me, they told me he wasn't feeling well because he swallowed water during birth, they took him for treatment and didn't let me breastfeed him and didn't let me in where he was. A nurse who took pity on me, saw that I was crying through the glass, let me in even though it was forbidden, and that's how i breastfeed him.
Later, as I was getting ready for discharge, an Iraqi cleaning lady came and told me that she had heard the medical staff whispering about taking my child and telling me he was sick. My husband came to take us home and I went to take the baby out. The nurses said he was sick, they told me he needed treatment, I told them I would take him to a hospital for treatment and not leave him here at the maternity hospital, but they didn't want to. I argued, yelled, and did not give up. I raged and eventually they gave me my child back. I went to the doctor at the hospital fund in Yavne and he said that he is healthy, and everything is fine, we can go on and circumcise him.
Exactly one year later, in 1955, I gave birth to my daughter Tamar at the Rehovot Maternity Hospital.
And again, a year later exactly in 1956 I gave birth to my daughter Rina, again in the same Rehovot Maternity Hospital.
Name of child: Unnamed/son of Yona Hamama Basal
Origin Country: Yemen
Year of abduction: 1953
Hospital: Kaplan, Rehovot (Rehovot Maternity Hospital)
A committee complaint was submitted: No
I argued, yelled, and did not give up. I raged and eventually they gave me my child back.