My grandfather and grandmother, Kaduri and Zahara Hadad of blessed memory, immigrated from Tunis to Israel in 1949 with three little children while my grandmother was in an advanced stage of pregnancy. They lived in the transit camp Ein Shemer C, and my grandmother gave birth to a son. One day, doctors and nurses arrived at the tent where my grandmother was with the baby and told her that the baby looked ill and must be taken to the hospital. The baby, who was then four months old, did not show signs of illness and was not crying. My grandmother, who didn’t understand the Hebrew language but trusted these people, gave the baby to them. A few days later, when she came to get her son, the doctors told her that her son had died. My grandmother was stunned and didn’t understand; how did he die all of the sudden? From what? My grandmother asked to see the body and was answered that he was already buried, but she was not told the location of his grave nor shown a death certificate. My grandfather, who then worked in Beersheba, came back to the transit camp Ein Shemer C. He searched and dug in the ground to see if he would find his son’s grave, but to no avail. He found nothing. He also heard from the neighbors in the tent that the same thing had happened to other families, that their children suddenly “died.”
Eighteen years later, my grandfather and grandmother received a draft notice for their supposedly deceased son.
His whole life, my grandfather believed that his son was alive. To the rest of his children, he constantly recalled their brother who disappeared and his grief. He also recalled that his son had a large black birthmark on his genitals.
My grandmother, in contrast, chose to believe her son had died.
They both died some years ago.
During the production of my documentary film “Severed Ties,” which dealt with my uncle’s disappearance, I found a gravestone with my uncle’s name in the Pardes Hanna cemetery. The gravestone reads “Nahum Hadad” but without specifying years or parents’ names. A row of little gravestones stands there, and I couldn’t say with certainty that babies were really buried there back then.
My grandmother, who didn’t understand Hebrew but trusted these people, gave the baby to them. A few days later, when she came to get her son, the doctors told her that he had died