December 23, 2009
Israel now shares a monstrous distinction with China. It illegally harvests organs from the dead. The former head of Israel’s Abu Kabir forensic institute has admitted the ghoulish practice, according to a reported published by The New Zealand Herald. Abu Kabir’s forensic pathologists harvested organs from dead bodies, primarily Palestinians, without the permission of their families.
|Palestinians have feared for many years that Israeli Occupation Forces in the West Bank and Gaza have targeted them for organ harvest.|
In August it was reported by Aftonbladet, Sweden’s largest circulation daily, that Israeli troops killed Palestinians specifically to harvest their organs. The report appeared after an American Jew was arrested in the United States for illicit organ trafficking. The story made news in Israel, where some commentators compared it to medieval libels that Jews killed Christian children for their blood. Daniel Seaman, who heads Israel’s government press office, said the article played on “vile anti-Semitic themes,” according to the Associated Press.
The Swedish newspaper reported that Israeli soldiers targeted Palestinians specifically in order to harvest their organs.
Journalist Donald Bostrom wrote in the article that Palestinians “harbor strong suspicions against Israel for seizing young men and having them serve as the country’s organ reserve – a very serious accusation, with enough question marks to motivate the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to start an investigation about possible war crimes.”
An Israeli official called Bostrom’s story “hate porn” and the American magazine Commentary wrote that the story was “merely the tip of the iceberg in terms of European funded and promoted anti-Israel hate.”
“The fact is, however, that substantiated evidence of public and private organ trafficking and theft, and allegations of worse, have been widely reported for many years. Given such context, the Swedish charges become far more plausible than might otherwise be the case and suggest that an investigation could well turn up significant information,” writes Alison Weir, executive director of If Americans Knew.
The latest accusation was revealed in connection to the Swedish report. The former head of Abu Kabir forensic institute, Dr Jehuda Hiss, was interviewed in 2000 by an American academic who released the interview because of the report in Aftonbladet and the denials of the Israeli government. “We started to harvest corneas,” Hiss told the academic. “Whatever was done was highly informal. No permission was asked from the family.”
“We’d glue the eyelid shut,” Hiss added. “We wouldn’t take corneas from families we knew would open the eyelids.”
Israel’s Channel 2 TV aired parts of the interview over the weekend.
In addition to corneas, skin, heart valves, and bones were taken from the bodies of Israeli soldiers, Israeli citizens, Palestinians and foreign workers, often without permission from relatives.
Hiss also said skin was taken from the backs of dead Palestinians and the families of the dead never discovered the theft because they did not examine the bodies before burial. Muslim custom dictates that the deceased be buried as soon as possible after death, avoiding the need for embalming or otherwise disturbing the body.
After the interview aired on television, the Israeli military admitted the macabre practice.
Palestinians have feared for many years that Israeli Occupation Forces in the West Bank and Gaza have targeted them for organ harvest.
In an article published in the Washington Report on Middle East Affair, Mary Barrett reports on the killings of young Palestinians. Her report contains an interview with Dr. Hatem Abu Ghazalch, the former chief health official for the West Bank under Jordanian administration and director of forensic medicine and autopsies. Barrett asks Ghazalch about “the widespread anxiety over organ thefts which has gripped Gaza and the West Bank since the intifada began in December of 1987.”
“There are indications that for one reason or another, organs, especially eyes and kidneys, were removed from the bodies during the first year or year and a half,” Ghazalch responded. “There were just too many reports by credible people for there to be nothing happening. If someone is shot in the head and comes home in a plastic bag without internal organs, what will people assume?”
In 2000, Nancy Scheper-Huges characterized organ harvesting as a form of modern cannibalism. “Today, China stands alone in continuing the use of organs of executed prisoners for transplant surgery,” she wrote.
Now Israel joins China as an international outlaw in this gruesome practice.
Organ harvesting will now be added to the list of Israel’s war crimes and human rights violations in the Occupied Territories.