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Hundreds protest to recognize the disappearance of Yemenite children

Hundreds block central Tel Aviv street while calling on the government to recognize one of the most harrowing chapters in Israeli history.

Demonstrators sit and listen to speeches during a protest to recognize the Yemenite Children's Affair, Tel Aviv, September 25, 2017. (Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org)

Demonstrators sit and listen to speeches during a protest to recognize the Yemenite Children’s Affair, Tel Aviv, September 25, 2017. (Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org)

Over 500 people demonstrated Monday evening in central Tel Aviv, calling on the state to recognize its responsibility for the Yemenite children’s affair, which took place in the years after the country was founded. Protesters blocked Kaplan Street, bringing traffic on one of Tel Aviv’s central thoroughfares for over an hour.

The demonstrators carried signs with photos of disappeared children and their family members, commemorating the affair that has haunted Israel since its early years. Between the years 1948 and 1952, thousands of babies, children of mostly Yemenite immigrants to the newly-founded State of Israel, were taken away from their parents. Many were reportedly given up for adoption to Ashkenazi families. The state has never taken responsibility for the disappearances.

The protesters emphasized that they are not looking for monetary compensation, and called on the government to fully open the state archives and formally recognize its role in the affair.

The demonstration, held in a square on the edge of the Sarona shopping complex, began calmly. Family members of the disappeared spoke before dozens seated on plastic chairs. As it grew bigger, the protest began spilling into the street where they were pushed back by the police. More demonstrators joined in until they were able to block Kaplan Street. After an hour, the officers were able to push the protesters back onto the sidewalk adjacent to the square. One demonstrator was arrested.

Demonstrators block a central Tel Aviv street during a protest to recognize the Yemenite Children's Affair, Tel Aviv, September 25, 2017. (Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org)

Demonstrators block a central Tel Aviv street during a protest to recognize the Yemenite Children’s Affair, Tel Aviv, September 25, 2017. (Shiraz Grinbaum/Activestills.org)

The demonstration was organized by Amram, an Israeli NGO dedicated to researching the disappearances of the Yemenite children, as well as by representatives of the kidnapped children. It was the second major protest organized in the past few months, following a major demo in downtown Jerusalem in June.

Activists from all sides of the political specturem were in attendance, as were Zionist Union leader and opposition head Isaac Herzog and Joint List MK Dov Khenin, among others. Shlomi Hatuka, one of the central organizers of the demonstration, told the crowd that the “crimes against the families continue even now. Every member of Knesset who remains silent today is an accomplice.”

This post was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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