For decades, human rights activists and families of Jewish immigrants of Yemen have asserted that thousands of infants were stolen from their families after the creation of Israel in 1948.
They say that these children were handed over to spouses of Ashkenazi Jews (of Central and Eastern Europe) in Israel and abroad.
At the time, doctors confirmed to the biological fathers of these children that their babies had died but that their bodies had not been delivered to them.
This case led the Sephardim (Mizrahi Jews) to accuse Ashkenazi, the founders of the state, of racism and “discriminatory treatment.”
“It is time for the state to acknowledge the suffering of families whose children were taken away (…) and for these families to obtain compensation,” Netanyahu said in a statement issued by his office.
The statement stressed that the money will not eliminate the suffering of families from Yemen and other Arab countries and the Balkan countries, describing what these families have been exposed to as “terrible” and “intolerable.”
The Israeli government has allocated an amount of 162 million shekels (41 million euros) for compensation. Families of deceased children, whose burial place is unknown, will receive 150,000 shekels (37,800 euros). The families of the children whose fate remains unresolved will receive 200,000 shekels, according to what Israeli Finance Minister Israel Katz announced.
In 2016, Netanyahu supported the opening of files that were supposed to be kept secret until 2031. Months later, the archives were opened.
Over the years, several official investigations concluded the death of the majority of children who had gone missing, stressing the poor sanitary conditions in the camps where their families were received.
Soon after the establishment of Israel, the authorities set up camps to receive the Jewish immigrants who flocked to the State of Israel, especially from Arab countries, and among them 30,000 Yemenis.
But official investigations have not dispelled doubts.
In 2018, the Israeli judiciary allowed the opening of the cemeteries of Jewish children who died in the 1950s and the conduct of genetic laboratory analyzes as part of efforts to uncover the circumstances of their loss.
On its Facebook page, the “Achim Vikayamim” association, which includes families of children affected by them, published a comment stating that “the state is trying to silence the families with ridiculous and partial compensation, without admitting its responsibility for what happened.”