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Israel to compensate families of missing Yemenite children

The government approves a NIS 162 million ($49.6 million) compensation plan for the families of immigrants to Israel during the state’s formative years, who say their children and siblings were taken from them by the authorities when they arrived in the country in the 1950s and then disappeared.

Known as the Yemenite children affair, the issue involves over 1,000 families — mostly immigrants from Yemen, but also dozens from the Balkans, North Africa, and other Middle Eastern countries — who have alleged their children were kidnapped from Israeli hospitals and put up for adoption, sometimes abroad.

The official explanation is that the children died while under medical care, but many families do not believe this.

Illustrative: Children being airlifted from Yemen in Operation Magic Carpet, in front of an Alaskan Airlines plane. (Courtesy AJM)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a statement from his office, says: “The time has come that the families whose babies were taken from them receive recognition from the state and the Israeli government and also compensation.”

“The compensation will not atone for the terrible suffering the families have endured and are enduring,” he says, adding that he hopes the decision will bring “a modicum of comfort, which they deserve.”

Netanyahu also orders the Education Ministry to include the affair in Israeli history textbooks.

Under the plan, families whose children died and were not notified of the death at the time or told of the circumstances, or not immediately informed of the burial site, are eligible for NIS 150,000 ($45,000) in compensation. For the families of children whose fates still remain unknown, the sum is NIS 200,000 ($61,000).

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