Body of Yazidi child who died during Israeli surgery stuck at Ben Gurion Airport

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

Sineor, a 17-month-old Yazidi child who died during an attempt at life-saving surgery in Israel. (Courtesy Shevet Achim)
Sineor, a 17-month-old Yazidi child who died during an attempt at life-saving surgery in Israel. (Courtesy Shevet Achim)

The body of a Yazidi child who passed away at Hadassah Hospital after an attempt at life-saving surgery is stuck at Ben Gurion Airport, with the boy’s mother forced to fly to northern Iraq without it.

Seventeen-month-old Sineor was born to Yazidi refugees who fled Islamic State when the group invaded the Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq in 2014. He was diagnosed with multiple congenital heart defects, and was in danger of dying without a series of complex operations. Hospitals in Iraqi Kurdistan are not capable of such procedures, and local volunteers connected his parents with Shevet Achim, a Jerusalem-based Christian organization that brings children from neighboring countries into Israel for heart surgery.

But the boy died on Monday after operations at Hadassah Ein Kerem Medical Center Jerusalem. “It was a complex surgery, and unfortunately he passed away after surgery,” said Alain Serraf, the veteran cardiac surgeon who performed the procedure.

It is not yet clear why the boy’s body is not being allowed out, but it appears that Maman Cargo, an Israeli logistics company, is refusing to allow Sineor’s body to be loaded onto a Royal Jordanian plane to Erbil via Amman, citing security concerns. Doctors put a pacemaker in the boy’s body, and some, including Shevet Achim founder Jonathan Miles, speculated that this may be the source of the problem. But when Serraf called Maman to explain that he had put in the pacemaker and there was no threat, he was told that the holdup was unrelated to the surgery.

Maman’s security officer told The Times of Israel that he does not speak to the press. The Shin Bet agency, responsible for domestic security, did not return calls.

Shevet Achim and DHL are now trying to find a solution through Turkish Airlines.

Meanwhile, the grieving mother is back in Iraq, unable to bury her only child and with no indication of when his body will be allowed out of Israel.

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