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Israeli ministry agrees to fund DNA tests for `missing’ Yemenites

JERUSALEM, Nov. 26 (JTA) – The Israeli Health Ministry has agreed to fund genetic testing for families of Yemenite children who allegedly disappeared during the early years of Israeli statehood. The testing may provide some answers, and some closure, to one of the most painful episodes in the Yemenite immigrant experience. Some members of the Yemenite community have repeatedly alleged that hundreds of their children were kidnapped and sold to Ashkenazi families. Previous inquiries found no wrongdoing, concluding that many of the children died of disease and that the confusion surrounding their fate was due to governmental bureaucracy. With the ministry’s decision, some $11,000 will be allocated for tests to compare DNA from families with remnants exhumed from graves in which their children were said to be buried. The samples will be sent to a laboratory in Britain for analysis. The genetic testing, which was begun last year, was suspended due to budgetary shortages. In August, an Israeli woman from Yemen was apparently reunited with her biological daughter on the basis of genetic testing. But newly performed tests performed last month by Israel’s Ministry of Health contradicted the earlier tests, which showed that Tzila Levine was the long-lost daughter of Margalit Omassi.

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