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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office on March 13, 2016. AFP / GALI TIBBON

Tel Aviv-After 60 years of denial, a high-ranking Israeli Government official has admitted for the first time that thousands of children were kidnapped in the 1950s from their Jewish mothers and fathers who had fled Yemen, before being given or sold to Jewish Ashkenazi families.

The official said that until today, those children do not know who their parents were.

In an interview with Channel 2 last Saturday, Minister-without-portfolio Tzachi Hanegbi of the Likud party said: “The deliberate operation of stealing hundreds of children truly happened.”

However, the minister did not explain in details to which parties the kids were handed to, but only said: “We hope to study the documents and evidences to understand what happened and try to reach a solution.”

Last month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the issue of the Yemeni children constitutes an “open wound for many families that do not know what happened to their children who disappeared, and are still looking for the truth.”

The Yemeni children were kidnapped from Israeli hospitals.

Hanegbi reached his conclusions after examining classified documents linked to the affair from the state’s archives. Over the past several decades, there have been already 1.5 million documents gathered by three investigative committees tasked by the government to probe the case.

However, the three committees had reached the same conclusions: “children died in the hospital and were simply buried without the families being informed or involved.”

Hanegbi said: “In the past weeks and months the Israeli public has begun to understand that this is not a hallucination.”

Hanegbi said that he could not determine whether the government was involved in the kidnappings, or knew that they took place.

He said: “Did the establishment have knowledge or did it not know? did it organize it or not? We may never know.”

Hanegbi said he would continue to examine additional documents after November and would then present recommendations to the Israeli government to issue a decision that would declassify these documents.

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