Imagine you just had a healthy newborn baby and after five days of nursing in the hospital you were told that he had suddenly died of unspecified health complications. You are neither shown your baby’s dead body nor the grave. This is precisely what happened to over a thousand Yemenite families in Israel in the 1950’s.

In July 2016, after a more than half-century-long struggle by the grieving families, finally, the Israeli Minister for National Security, Tzachi Hanegbi, officially admitted that hundreds of babies of Arab Jews had been stolen from their mothers without their parent’s knowledge in the first six years following the establishment of Israel in 1948. “They took the children and gave them away. I don’t know where,” says the minister.

Surprisingly, four more legislators in the 120-seat Israeli parliament came forward to reveal that their own relatives had disappeared in the 1950s. Two were from Netanyahu’s Likud party.

While Hanegbi’s admission appears to confirm allegations long made by the families, according to a claim of Amram, an organization working to reunite these stolen children with their families, as many as 8,000 babies were illicitly seized from their families and either sold or handed over to mostly Ashkenazi (European Jews) couples.

According to New York Times, “The problem was compounded when successive Israeli Governments refused to order investigations, fearing damaging political fallout.” Yaron London, one of Israel’s best-known commentators on Yemeni migration, has declared these stories of kidnappings a conspiracy theory.

But as more and more families came forward and registered their complaints especially after the emergence of social media, the officials were forced to admit the unpleasant truth. The issue was probed multiple times, but without ever unsealing the protocols and crucial records.

This affair has also stirred violence and fueled radicalism in Yemenite Israelis. According to New York Times, “The two earlier inquiries about the Yemenite babies produced only limited findings. The latest commission was announced after a shootout in 1994 between a radical Yemenite group and the police that left one militant dead. The group, led by Uzi Meshulam, who is now serving an eight-year jail sentence, contends that more than 4,500 Yemenite babies were kidnapped for illegal adoption.”

What did DNA tests reveal? The anxiety of grieving families bolstered when in 1997, the DNA of an Israeli woman, Tzila Levine, proved that she was the biological child of a Yemenite mother whose baby had mysteriously gone missing.

Following heavy pressure, Netanyahu published a video in June acknowledging the sufferings of grieving families, “The subject of the Yemenite children is an open wound that continues to bleed for many families who don’t know what happened to the infants, to the children who disappeared.” He also appointed Hanegbi to re-examine the documents from three previous inquiries regarding child abductions.

Curiously these crimes were committed not even against Palestinians, but against ‘other Jews’ of Arab ethnicity. These babies belonged mostly to Yemeni families, but also from Jewish families from other parts of Middle-East and North Africa who are called Mizrahi Jews. It is worth noting that following the establishment of Israel, a Jewish relocation operation was carried out by the Israeli government in order to maintain a demographic balance with Palestinian Arabs. The Yemeni Jews were brought to Israel through a clandestine operation called ‘Magic Carpet’ with the assistance of the United States and Britain and were promised a decent living with equal rights in the illegally occupied Israeli state.

Were the Israeli government and authorities complicit in mass abductions? Testimonies indicate that Israeli lawmakers, health ministry staff, and senior judges knew of these underhand practices at the time. This is further supported by the fact that the Israeli government decided to place all the documents relating to the missing children under lock until as late as 2071. Although many mothers were told that their babies had died during delivery, they were never shown a body or grave, and no death certificate was ever issued. Some mothers shockingly even claim that their babies were forcibly snatched away by nurses from their very arms.

A few children have been reunited with their biological families after five or six decades, but the vast majority simply doesn’t have any idea at all about their background. To add to their woes an Israeli privacy law makes it nearly impossible for them to see official files that might reveal their adoption details.

According to the New York Times, the Yemenite Jewish advocates assert that “the European-born Ashkenazic Israeli establishment looked down at the new immigrants and their traditional ways and felt free to take their children for adoption by childless European Jewish couples, many of them Holocaust survivors.”

The large numbers of Arab Jews who arrived in the first decade were sorely needed as fodder in the demographic war against the Palestinians, but the Arab origin and culture of these Jews was also viewed as a direct threat to the Jewish state’s survival, and one almost as serious as the presence of Palestinians. Israel’s first prime minister Ben Gurion, described the Mizrahim as “rabble” and a “generation of the desert”, concluding that they lacked “a trace of Jewish or human education”.

“Israel set about “de-Arabising” these Middle Eastern Jews with the same steely determination with which it had just driven out most of the area’s Palestinians,” says Jonathan Cook, a Nazareth-based award-winning British Journalist.

According to Cook, “European-Israeli Jews regarded Arab Jews as uncivilised and barbarous. While killing and throwing Palestinians out of Palestine, they wanted to ensure that Arabness do not creep into the new Jewish state. Ben-Gurion feared that, whatever their religion, they might corrupt his Jewish state culturally.”

They decided to civilise and educate the children of Arab Jews by detaching them from their Arab background in the hope that “they would be reformed through education and the cultivation of a loathing for everything Arab.”

The Yemenite Jews baby abduction affair, as it is called “should alert Israel’s Arab Jews to the fact that they face the same enemy as the Palestinians” says Cook.

The affair is an obvious case of child trafficking and genocide as this forced transfer of children belonging to one ethnic group to another falls clearly within United Nations definition of genocide. This scandal reveals the racist and clandestine nature of the founders of Israel. For them, ethnicity over rode roughshod over commonality of faith. This irrepressible Zionist streak of racism has not only committed crimes against Arab Palestinians but also against their own co-religionists. Those who call this historic case of state planned genocide a conspiracy theory are in fact the perpetrators of conspiracies themselves.