Nytt

Israels Channel 2 har i helgen vist et intervju med den tidligere lederen av det rettsmedisinske instituttet, Abu Kabir, hvor han sier at de i en periode på 90-tallet tok organer fra døde mennesker uten å spørre de pårørende. Det var israelske soldater, sivile israelere og palestinere.

De pårørende klaget og praksisen opphørte. Jehuda Hiss var den gang leder av instituttet.

Parts of the interview were broadcast on Israel’s Channel 2 TV over the weekend. In it, Hiss said, «We started to harvest corneas … Whatever was done was highly informal. No permission was asked from the family.»

The Channel 2 report said that in the 1990s, forensic specialists at Abu Kabir harvested skin, corneas, heart valves and bones from the bodies of Israeli soldiers, Israeli citizens, Palestinians and foreign workers, often without permission from relatives.
In a response to the TV report, the Israeli military confirmed that the practice took place. «This activity ended a decade ago and does not happen any longer,» the military said in a statement quoted by Channel 2.

In the interview, Hiss described how his doctors would mask the removal of corneas from bodies. «We’d glue the eyelid shut,» he said. «We wouldn’t take corneas from families we knew would open the eyelids.»

Many of the details in the interview first came to light in 2004, when Hiss was dismissed as head of the forensic institute because of irregularities over use of organs there. Israel’s attorney general dropped criminal charges against him, and Hiss still works as chief pathologist at the institute. He had no comment on the TV report.

Hiss became director of the institute in 1988. He said in the interview that the practice of harvesting organs without permission began in the «early 1990s.» However, he also said that military surgeons removed a thin layer of skin from bodies as early as 1987 to treat burn victims. Hiss said he believed that was done with family consent. The harvesting ended in 2000, he said.

Aftonbladet publiserte tidligere i år en artikkel der Donald Boström påsto at den israelske hæren plyndret drepte palestinere for organer. Boström tok utgangspunkt i noe han mente han hadde vært vite til på begynnelsen av 90-tallet, og han spant det ut mørke farger: israelerne skjøt palestinerne og plyndret de døde. Det lød uhyggelig. Israel, både myndigheter og publikuim, reagerte kraftig og oppfattet det som den gamle blodofferritusen i ny forkledning. Det var også direkte falsum i Boströms artikkel: en henvisning til en organ-skandale i Brooklyn, men der var ikke rabbinere involvert, og det var levende israelere som dro til USA for å få et nytt organ. Boström brukte denne skandalen som bevis på at Israel i skjul driver en skitten handel med organ.

Det var disse to elementene: likheten til blood libel-historien og Brooklyn-affæren, som fikk mange til å reagere på Aftonbladets artikkel.

Nå kommer et intervju som bekrefter at det var en uetisk bruk av organer, men den rammet ikke bare palestinere, men også israelere. Det gir unektelig en annen vinkel, men bekreftelsen er likevel skadelig.

Oppstyret rundt Boströms artikkel er den direkte foranledning til at amerikanske Nancy Sheppard-Hughes følte hun måtte publisere intervjuet hun satt på.

The academic, Nancy Sheppard-Hughes, a professor of anthropology at the University of California-Berkeley, said she decided to make the interview public in the wake of the Aftonbladet controversy, which raised diplomatic tensions between Israel and Sweden and prompted Sweden’s foreign minister to call off a visit to the Jewish state.
Sheppard-Hughes said that while Palestinians were «by a long shot» not the only ones affected by the practice in the 1990s, she felt the interview must be made public now because «the symbolism, you know, of taking skin of the population considered to be the enemy, (is) something, just in terms of its symbolic weight, that has to be reconsidered.»
While insisting that all organ harvesting was done with permission, Israel’s Health Ministry told Channel 2, «The guidelines at that time were not clear.» It added, «For the last 10 years, Abu Kabir has been working according to ethics and Jewish law.»

Israel harvested organs in ’90s without permission