Jerusalem: Israel’s national archive today announced the launch of an online database of 200,000 documents aimed at putting to rest decades-old allegations of a racket in stolen babies.
Since a wave of Yemenite Jewish emigration to the newly created state of Israel in around 1950, Yemenite activists have charged that hundreds of babies declared dead by doctors were actually abducted for adoption by European Jewish couples.
They say the babies went missing from camps set up to host Yemenites along with Jews arriving from other Arab countries in the early 1950s.
Doctors at the camps told them their children had died, but refused to hand over the bodies or death certificates.
Activists and family members believe up to several thousand babies were taken in the years after Israel was founded in 1948, mainly from Jewish Yemenite families, but also from immigrants of other Arab or Balkan nations.
Official inquiries have found that most of the missing babies had died, pointing out the poor conditions in reception camps for the immigrants.
But many parents are not convinced.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in July he would support opening the country’s archives, which would normally be classified until 2031.
Among the documents already made public is a confidential report by a government inquiry.
It found that most of the children who disappeared were dead and that the fate of dozens more was unknown, but offered no proof that they had been kidnapped.
The opening of the Israel State Archives will mean that families can investigate the circumstances of their children’s disappearances.
“There are no more classified documents,” the archive said.