Hundreds of people, including members of Knesset, attended a rally in Jerusalem on Wednesday evening ahead of the Awareness Day for the Kidnapped Children from Yemen, the Middle East, and the Balkan.
The protesters, among them families of missing children and social activists, are demanding recognition and justice for the children and the families.
They also demand the acquittal of Rabbi Uzi Meshulam, who was jailed after a standoff with police when he barricaded himself with his supporters at his home and demanded the establishment of an inquiry commission to investigate the case of the missing children.
Protesters blocked traffic on King George Street, calling out "Where are the Yemenite children?" They were also carrying signs with the photos and names of the missing children.
In December, the National Archive's website made available to the public some 3,500 case files including 210,000 documents dealing with the disappearance of the Yemenite children. The searchable documents provide information on thousands of children, including where they were buried and what their cause of death was.
Sharon Arami, 31 from Ramat Gan, came to the rally with her brother. "I want to know where my aunts and uncles are," she said. "I'm a third generation to the holocaust of the Yemenite children. We're still looking for them to this very day."
Seven children are missing from the Arami family. "My grandmother arrived (in Israel) in 1949. She had 13 children, seven of whom disappeared. The commission of inquiry determined they all passed away, and the absurd thing was they all received IDF draft orders," Sharon Arami said. "One of the girls, the commission found, passed away four times in four different places. It's time to recognize this and start opening up the archives to find out what happened to my aunts and uncles."
Poet Shlomi Hatuka, who heads the Amram NGO dedicated to finding out what happened to the missing children, spoke at the rally. "We're here because for 70 years now, the State of Israel has been dismissing us," he said. "We're here because for 70 years, the State of Israel has been saying our grandfathers and grandmothers are liars. They silenced us with violence. Rabbi Uzi Meshulam paid with his life. We're here. As long as we're here, we won't be silent. The country won't be quiet."
Likud MK Nava Boker, who pushed to open the archives to the public, spoke about her own experience. "My parents passed away without learning the fate of their child... I demand recognition of these kidnappings cases; they shouldn't be treated as adoption cases. There were criminal actions done," she said.
Dr. Moshe Nahum, the president of the International Federation for Yemenite Jewry, presented his book about the disappearance of the Yemenite children. "In 1942, my three-months-old baby sister was kidnapped. We searched for her. My parents sat and cried. Every Friday they'd bake and lament the loss of the girl. I want the real files to be opened because all of the inquiry commissions lied," he accused.