Tzvia Cohen, a nurse-trainee in Ein Shemer, was summoned to testify to the state investigative committee. In a letter she wrote to the committee she notes:
“...and I am a witness that I took a number of babies to a hospital in Haifa with an ambulance at the orders of the head nurse, and when I dared to claim that the child was healthy and that they didn’t have any disease I was harshly reprimanded, and they threatened to fire me if I would not fulfill my duties. When I asked why the child wasn’t back a number of days later? Or whether the parents could be taken to see him? I was again reprimanded.” (From Kedmi Committee file - Witness summoned by the Committee - Tzvia Cohen - 5/96)
On September 9th, 1996, in her testimony to the Committee, Cohen stated:
“The parents were in a very frightened state, understanding that their children were being taken. We calmed them down, telling them that the children were taken to nurseries and that everything was very organized.”
Later she said that the immigrants arrived in Israel aware of the rumor that upon arrival “they will take away their children and separate them. That they will steal their children and sell them.”
The chairman (retired judge Yehuda Cohen): “After the explanation the parents would hand over the babies.”
Tzvia Cohen: “The parents didn’t hand them over. They just took the babies from them.”
Later she mentions “Some children were taken aggressively. Just like at any other place… The parents were treated as if they didn’t really understand. Like they weren’t so smart.”
The chairman: “Who is the “they” that treated them like this?”
Tzvia Cohen: “The authorities. Those who were responsible then.”
On the attitude of those in charge she said, “A little arrogant. A condescension to those who served them. Even aggressively so.”
Later she describes the cruel treatment of mothers who would be let into the tent to breastfeed and then told to leave with the claim that it’s for the sake of the child as that the tent had to be sterile. She mentions that it was warm by the tents, pleasant, “full of scents of cooking,” and proceeded to add that “If a mother cried, they would explain to her that it’s for the sake of the child and then wouldn’t pay any attention to her… My heart ached. Every mother wants the child near her.”
In her testimony, she referred to the fact that sometimes, when holding and transporting a baby from her area to the hospitals in Haifa and Hadera, neither the ambulance driver nor she had documents or records of the child to provide the hospital with.
Regarding the babies who died she said:“virtually no babies died in our department.”
The chairman: “And when you were asked how you knew?”
Tzvia Cohen: “Sometimes a mother would come in the morning and suddenly the child was dead. And I remember that the behavior wasn’t kind … on the part the department supervisors.”
In response to the chairman’s question whether babies were ever returned healthy from Rambam hospital, Tzvia Cohen said: “Yes yes. But some came back and some didn’t.”
Later she recalled how during one instance when she was required to transport a baby, along with a driver, to the hospital, she dared to claim that the child she was carrying was healthy and not ill. She even mentioned that he was “chubby and beautiful and big.”
“They told me not to get involved … three times they wanted to fire me because sometimes I cam to defense of the parents … they sternly ordered me to take the child.”
When she was asked who wanted to fire her she responded, “the supervising nurse,” and refused the committee’s request for a name.
(The transcript of Cohen’s testimony is missing in the State Archives. The quotes were taken from an article on the topic in Israel Hayom [Israel Today] http://www.israelhayom.co.il/article/439435)
I am a witness that I took a number of babies to a hospital in Haifa with an ambulance at the orders of the head nurse, and when I dared to claim that the child was healthy and that they didn’t have any disease I was harshly reprimanded, and they threatened to fire me if I would not fulfill my duties. When I asked why the child wasn’t back a number of days later? Or whether the parents could be taken to see him? I was again reprimanded.
The parents didn’t hand them over. They just took the babies from them