Editorial Note: This article is translated from the Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet by Donna Anziner. (See here for the original article.) It has provoked angry denials from Israel. Boström has stated to the government-run Israeli radio that "It concerns me, to the extent that I want [Palestinian accusations of IDF theft of organs for harvesting] to be investigated, that’s true. ... But whether it’s true or not — I have no idea, I have no clue.” The logic of the article is as follows: the recent arrest of Levy Izhak Rosenbaum for illegal organ trade in connection to other arrests among prominent figures in an Orthodox Jewish community in the US; Israel's record of needing organs for transplanting; Israel's record of ignoring international conventions on illegal organ trade; long term complaints by Palestinians about Israeli practices of harvesting organs from Palestinians; his own experience as a witness to an incident in 1992; the Israeli practice of performing autopsies on murdered Palestinians in the absence of compelling reasons and against the wishes of the Palestinians; returning the bodies sewed up, followed by immediate burial under Israeli supervision.
This is a powerful circumstantial case and in our opinion warrants an international investigation. See also Alison Weir's powerful article on this topic.
August, 17, 2009
"I am what you can call a 'matchmaker'”, said Levy Izhak Rosenbaum from
Brooklyn, USA, in a secret recording by an FBI-agent whom he believed to be a
client. Ten days later, at the end of July this year, Rosenbaum was arrested in
connection with a massive corruption ring uncovered in New Jersey: rabbis,
congressmen and entrusted officials had for years been busy with money
laundering and the illegal organ trade, which now
ended up like a Sopranos episode. Rosenbaum’s
matchmaking had nothing to do with romance and everything to do with buying and
selling, on the black market, kidneys from
Levy Izhak Rosenbaum is driven away by FBI agents. Rosenbaum was allegedly a middleman in the illegal organ trade. Photo: AP
The accusations have shaken the American
transplant industry. Should this be true, it would be the first time organ trafficking has
been documented in the
On the question of how many organs were sold, Rosenbaum says: "Quite a lot." And he boasts, "I have never failed." His business was carried out over a very long period of time.
Francis Delmonici, a
professor in transplant surgery at Harvard, and member of the Board at the
National Kidney Foundation’s Board of Directors, is quoted
in the same newspaper, saying that the same type
of organ trafficking which takes place in
Hot countries for that
type of illegal trade are
Half of the new kidneys
that Israelis have received since the beginning of the year 2000 have been
illegally bought from
In an attempt to fill
the need for organs in the country,
Only a couple of weeks
later, the Jerusalem Post wrote that
the campaign had been very successful. Not less than 35 000 persons had
enrolled, when usually it’s about
At the same time when that campaign was going on, young Palestinians were disappearing and were being returned at night to their villages, five days later, dead and ripped up.
The story of the ripped
up bodies terrified the populations in
I was in the area working on a book when I was contacted several times by UN staff members who were worried about the situation. Those who contacted me said that the
theft of organs indeed took place, but that there was nothing they could do. On
assignment for a TV company, I traveled around and spoke with a great number of
Palestinian families in the West Bank and
It was close to midnight
when the sound of the engines of cars coming from the
Israeli military column was heard in the outskirts of the small village called
Imatin on the northern part of the
Bilal Ghanan was one of
the leading stone throwers and had been on the wanted list for a couple of
years. This meant that he and other wanted stone throwing boys lived under the
bare sky up in the
Palestinians throw stones and glass bottles against Israeli soldiers in the
northern part of the
Everything happened according to plans for the Israeli Special Forces unit. They stubbed out their cigarettes, took away the cans of Coca Cola and took aim calmly and quietly through the broken window. When Bilal was near enough, they only had to squeeze the trigger. He got shot the first time in the chest. According to the villagers who witnessed the incident, he was also shot after that, once in each leg. After which, two soldiers ran out from the carpentry shop and shot him twice in the stomach. Finally, they took Bilal by the feet and dragged him down the 20 steps of stone of the carpentry. The villagers also say that afterwards, people from the UN and the Red Crescent who happened to be in the area and had heard the shots came to take care of the wounded.
The discussion over who would take care of the victim ended when the Israeli forces took charge of the badly hurt Bilal, loaded him into a jeep and drove away to the village’s outskirts. There waited a military helicopter that took Bilal away to an unknown destination.
Five days later, he was back in the darkness, dead and wrapped up in green hospital cloths. When the military column, that had come to get Bilal from the autopsy center Abu Kabir outside Tel Aviv, stopped by the place where Bilal would be placed to rest, someone recognized the Israeli military leader by the name of Captain Yahya. In the dark, a person whispered “The worst of them all” in my ear. After Captain Yahya’s men had unloaded the body and exchanged the green cloth for a light colored cotton cloth, a few male relatives were picked up to complete the job by digging earth and mixing cement.
Together with the sharp sound of the spades, some laughs were heard on the part of the soldiers who waited to go home as they exchanged jokes with each other. When Bilal was lowered down to the ground, his chest was exposed and it became suddenly clear to those who were present what type of abuse he had been subjected to. Bilal was by no means the first person who was buried with a stitched up body from the stomach to the neck, but speculation about the purpose jumpstarted.
Bilal Achmed Ghanan, 19 years old, was shot and taken by Israeli soldiers. His body was later returned stitched up again from belly to neck. Photo: Donald Boström
Palestinian families on the West Bank and
Why would they keep their bodies up to five days before we can bury them? What happened to the bodies during that time? And why were they autopsied when the cause of death was evident, and in all cases, against our will? And why are the areas closed by the military during the funeral? And why is the electrical power cut off?
Nafe's uncle had many questions and he was very upset. The relatives of the killed Palestinian men did not have any doubts any longer.
The spokesman for the Israeli army said that, on the contrary, the allegations of organ theft were fabrications by the Palestinians. He claimed that all the Palestinians who were killed were routinely autopsied.
Bilal Achmed Ghanem was one of the 133 Palestinians who were killed in various ways that year. According to Palestinian statistics, the reasons of death were as follows: shot in the street, explosion, battery, tear gas, intentionally run over by a car, hanged in prison, shot at school, killed in the house, etc. Of those 133 assassinated persons of all ages from four months to 88 years old, 69 were autopsied, which is to say half of the dead. The routine autopsies carried out on dead Palestinians, as the army spokesman said, do not match the reality in the occupied areas. The questions remain.
We know that there is a great need for organs in Israel. And we know that there is a widespread illegal organ trade under way, that it has been going on for a long time, that it takes place with the blessing of the authorities, and that high-level doctors in the largest hospitals and officials at different levels also take part in it. And we know that Palestinian young men disappeared, that they were returned five days later under mysterious circumstances at night, ripped up and stitched back.
The time has come to
bring to light this macabre activity, to reveal what is going on and what has
happened in the territories occupied by
Donald Boström is a journalist, photographer and writer of the documentary book Inshallah (Published by Ordfront 2003).