"One night I had six children die..."

Dr. Amster of Rambam Hospital spoke of the bad condition of children who arrived for treatment in the children's ward during Polio epidemic

Mordechai Sones ,

ילדים יהודים במחנה מעבר בתימן ערב עלייתם לארץ בשנת 1949
ילדים יהודים במחנה מעבר בתימן ערב עלייתם לארץ בשנת 1949
צילום: ELDAN DAVID, לע"מ

Among testimony that was declassified today (Wednesday) within the framework of the release of protocols of the investigation into the disappearance of Yemenite children during the early years of the State, appears that of Dr. Rosa Amster, pediatrician at Rambam hospital.

Amster told the Cohen-Kedmi investigating committee about the difficult condition of scores of children from the Haifa area treated by two pediatricians: "I did seventeen shifts in a month, night and day. They would call me to the emergency room and there would be 5, 6, 8, 10 children at once. Very sick..."

In her words some of the children came straight from the plane and some arrived from the camps. "I don't know who brought the children; sometimes it was a social worker and sometimes it was a nurse. We had no contact with the parents. We never even saw the parents."

Dr. Amster repeated words that were heard repeatedly in the testimonies of many medical staff: "Names were a big problem. Every child had many names and we didn't know what was the first name and what was the surname."

Amster says the children suffered from a range of maladies including dysentery and salmonella, and many arrived to the hospital too late. "I can say that one night we had six children die - not all of then from Yemen, but most of them were from Yemen. I'll never forget that night."

She says that children who recovered were sent to foster families, but she did not know what became of them afterwards.