ORGAN THEFT: Infamous ISRAELI Chief Pathologist to Once Again Evade Punishment

According to the arrangement, the prosecution will request that Prof. Hiss receive only a reprimand for his involvement in the unauthorized removal of parts from 125 bodies. In exchange, Hiss will admit to the acts. The plea bargain is subject to the approval of the court.

In all of the 125 cases, Dr. Hiss and his subordinates removed organs, bones and tissue without the permission of, and in many cases, against the expressed wishes of the families of the deceased.

According to evidence submitted in the past, Abu Kabir had a “museum of skulls” set up by Dr. Hiss that included the skulls of IDF soldiers that had been shot in the head. He has also been investigated for selling organs and falsifying testimony.

Hiss was fired from his position as Director of the institute shortly after the courts became involved in allegations against him, but has remained the Chief Pathologist at the Institute.

This is not the first time that Hiss has escaped legal consequences for his actions. Former Attorney-General Elyakim Rubenstein aroused objections from several directions when he ruled that Hiss should not be charged with criminal behavior, even though he provided “expert testimony” about autopsies at which he had not been present and used tissues and organs after autopsies without permission from the families of the deceased.

In July 2002, while Hiss was under police investigation for suspicions including the removal of organs from 81 deceased persons without familial consent, the Supreme Court rejected a petition by the Movement for Quality in Government (MQG) demanding his suspension.

State Pathologist Hiss generally decides Israel’s pathological-legal questions, and many people have been sent to prison based on his findings. His professional standards have often been publicly maligned. In August 1999, Jerusalem District Court Judge Ruth Orr sharply criticized him for testifying that a 12-year-old Arab rock-thrower died as a result of a beating by Beitar security chief Nachum Korman three years earlier. She wrote that Hiss “was carried away by his desire to find the exact cause of the death… and ignored important pathological findings that did not correspond with this desire.”

Dr. Hiss’ name has turned up repeatedly in relation to controversial events in Israel’s history, including the investigations into the Israeli government’s involvement in taking Yemenite children away from their parents in the 1950s, putting them up for adoption and the telling the parents that the children had died.

In Oct. 1997, Margalit Omeisi filed a police complaint against Hiss, charging him with “violating the medical secrecy to which he obligated himself.” Prof. Hiss had released, without authorization, the results of a DNA test he carried out, purporting to show that Omeisi was not related to a woman from California whom Omeisi said was her missing “Yemenite child” daughter. Both Omeisi and her apparent daughter said they did not accept the results of the Hiss test, and that the method he used was not authoritative. Tests carried out elsewhere did in fact prove the two to be mother and child.

Hiss has also been the subject of controversy regarding the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin. The police were asked to investigate charges that Hiss altered Rabin’s wounds and submitted false evidence to the Shamgar Commission that investigated the killing. In March 1999, a group of Israeli academics presented findings showing that Hiss’ pathology report contradicted other authoritative findings. Prof. Hiss had stated that Rabin suffered no damage to his spinal cord, nor was he wounded by a frontal gunshot wound to the chest. But Dr. Mordechai Gutman’s surgical report, as well as taped testimony by Ichilov Hospital Director Dr. Gabi Barabash and former Health Minister Ephraim Sneh, indicate that Rabin’s backbone was shattered and that there was a frontal chest wound.

The MQG had requested that former Rubenstein reconsider his decision not to indict Chief Pathologist Prof. Yehuda Hiss. Rubenstein had stated that even if the Institute did not act properly, “there is no suspicion of corruption or profiteering on the part of Prof. Hiss, whose only interest was the advancement of medical research.”

Ref: Israel nation news

ISRAELI ORGAN TRAFFICKING: The Autopsy Surgeon Aftonbladet Forgot

The hyperventilating by Israel’s leaders [1] over a story published in a Swedish newspaper last month [2] suggesting that the Israeli army assisted in organ theft from Palestinians has distracted attention from the disturbing allegations made by Palestinian families that were the basis of the article’s central claim.

The families’ fears that relatives, killed by the Israeli army, had body parts removed during unauthorized autopsies performed in Israel have been overshadowed by accusations of a “blood libel” directed against the reporter, Donald Bostrom, and the Aftonbladet newspaper, as well as the Swedish government and people.

I have no idea whether the story is true. Like most journalists working in Israel and Palestine, I have heard such rumours before. Until Bostrom wrote his piece, no Western journalist, as far as I know, had investigated them. After so many years, the assumption by journalists was that there was little hope of finding evidence — apart from literally by digging up the corpses. Doubtless, the inevitable charge of anti-semitism such reports attract acted as a powerful deterrent too.

What is striking about this episode is that the families making the claims were not given a hearing in the late 1980s and early 1990s, during the first intifada, when most of the reports occurred, and are still being denied the right to voice their concerns today.

Israel’s sensitivity to the allegation of organ theft — or “harvesting”, as many observers coyly refer to the practice — appears to trump the genuine concerns of the families about possible abuse of their loved ones.

Bostrom has been much criticized for the flimsy evidence he produced in support of his inflammatory story. Certainly there is much to criticize in his and the newspaper’s presentation of the report.

Most significantly, Bostrom and Aftonbladet exposed themselves to the charge of anti-semitism — at least from Israeli officials keen to make mischief — through a major error of judgment.

They muddied the waters by trying to make a tenuous connection between the Palestinian families’ allegations about organ theft during unauthorized autopsies and the entirely separate revelations this month that a group of US Jews had been arrested for money-laundering and trading in body parts. [3]

In making that connection, Bostrom and Aftonbladet suggested that the problem of organ theft is a current one when they have produced only examples of such concern from the early 1990s. They also implied, whether intentionally or not, that abuses allegedly committed by the Israeli army could somehow be extrapolated more generally to Jews.

The Swedish reporter should instead have concentrated on the valid question raised by the families about why the Israeli army, by its own admission, took away the bodies of dozens of Palestinians killed by its soldiers, allowed autopsies to be performed on them without the families’ permission and then returned the bodies for burial in ceremonies held under tight security.

Bostrom’s article highlighted the case of one Palestinian, 19-year-old Bilal Ahmed Ghanan, from the village of Imatin in the northern West Bank, who was killed in 1992. A shocking picture of Bilal’s stitched-up body accompanied the report. [4]

Bostrom has told the Israeli media that he knows of at least 20 cases of families claiming that the bodies of loved ones were returned with body parts missing, [5] although he did not say whether any of these alleged incidents occurred more recently.

In 1992, the year in question, Bostrom says, the Israeli army admitted to him that it took away for autopsy 69 of the 133 Palestinians who died of unnatural causes. The army has not denied this part of his report.

A justifiable question from the families relayed by Bostrom is: why did the army want the autopsies carried out? Unless it can be shown that the army intended to conduct investigations into the deaths — and there is apparently no suggestion that it did — the autopsies were unnecessary.

In fact, they were more than unnecessary. They were counterproductive if we assume that the army has no interest in gathering evidence that could be used in future war crimes prosecutions of its soldiers. Israel has a long track record of stymying investigations into Palestinian deaths at the hands of its soldiers, and carried on that ignoble tradition in the wake of its recent assault on Gaza.

Of even greater concern for the Palestinian families is the fact that at around the time the bodies of their loved ones were whisked off by the army for autopsy, the only institute in Israel that conducts such autopsies, Abu Kabir, near Tel Aviv, was almost certainly at the centre of a trade in organs that later became a scandal inside Israel.

Equally disturbing, the doctor behind the plunder of body parts, Prof Yehuda Hiss, appointed director of the Abu Kabir institute in the late 1980s, has never been jailed despite admitting to the organ theft and he continues to be the state’s chief pathologist at the institute.

Hiss was in charge of the autopsies of Palestinians when Bostrom was listening to the families’ claims in 1992. Hiss was subsequently investigated twice, in 2002 and 2005, over the theft of body parts on a large scale.

Allegations of Hiss’ illegal trade in organs was first revealed in 2000 by investigative reporters at the Yediot Aharonot newspaper, which reported that he had “price listings” for body parts and that he sold mainly to Israeli universities and medical schools. [6]

Apparently undeterred by these revelations, Hiss still had an array of body parts in his possession at Abu Kabir when the Israeli courts ordered a search in 2002. Israel National News reported at the time: “Over the past years, heads of the institute appear to have given thousands of organs for research without permission, while maintaining a ‘storehouse’ of organs at Abu Kabir.” [7]

Hiss did not deny the plunder of organs, admitting that the body parts belonged to soldiers killed in action and had been passed to medical institutes and hospitals in the interests of advancing research. Understandably, however, the Palestinian families are unlikely to be satisfied with Hiss’ explanation. If the wishes of a soldier’s familiy were disregarded by Hiss, why not Palestinian families’ wishes too?

Hiss was allowed to continue as director of Abu Kabir until 2005 when allegations of a trade in organs surfaced again. On this occasion Hiss admitted to having removed parts from 125 bodies without authorization. Following a plea bargain with the state, the attorney general decided not to press criminal charges and Hiss was given only a reprimand. [8] He has continued as chief pathologist at Abu Kabir.

It should also be noted, as Bostrom points out, that in the early 1990s Israel was suffering from an acute shortage of organ donors to the extent that Ehud Olmert, health minister at the time, launched a public campaign to encourage Israelis to come forward.

This offers a possible explanation for Hiss’ actions. He may have acted to help make up the shortfall.

Given the facts that are known, there must be at least a very strong suspicion that Hiss removed organs without authorisation from some Palestinians he autopsied. Both this issue, and the army’s possible role in supplying him with corpses, needs investigation.

Hiss is also implicated in another long-running and unresolved scandal from Israel’s early years, in the 1950s, when the children of recent Jewish immigrants to Israel from Yemen were adopted by Ashkenazi couples after the Yeminite parents had been told that their child had died, [9] usually after admission to hospital.

After an initial cover-up, the Yeminite parents have continued pressing for answers from the state, and forced officials to reopen the files. [8] The Palestinian families deserve no less.

However, unlike the Yemenite parents, their chances of receiving any kind of investigation, transparent or otherwise, look all but hopeless.

When Palestinian demands for justice are not backed by investigations from journalists or the protests of the international community, Israel can safely ignore them.

It is worth remembering in this context the constant refrain from Israel’s peace camp that the brutal, four-decade occupation of the Palestinians has profoundly corrupted Israeli society.

When the army enjoys power without accountability, how do Palestinians, or we, know what soldiers are allowed to get away with under cover of occupation? What restraints are in place to prevent abuses? And who takes them to task if they do commit crimes?

Similarly, when Israeli politicians are able to cry “blood libel” or “anti-semitism” when they are criticised, damaging the reputations of those they accuse, what incentive do they have to initiate inquiries that may harm them or the institutions they oversee? What reason do they have to be honest when they can bludgeon a critic into silence, at no cost to themselves?

This is the meaning of the phrase “Power corrupts”, and Israeli politicians and soldiers, as well as at least one pathologist, demonstrably have far too much power — most especially over Palestinians under occupation.

ISRAELI ORGAN TRAFFICKING: Two Haifa men sentenced to jail for organ trafficking

Prof. Yehuda Hiss, the director of the Institute of Forensic Medicine at Abu Kabir was under police investigation in 2002 for removing organs from deceased persons without familial consent. He was dismissed by the Health Ministry for a while until Hiss agreed to a plea bargain. He admitted to being involved in the removal of body parts from 125 bodies and was reprimanded for this.


T
he stories about Palestinian Intifada dead arriving home with organs removed began soon after the outbreak of the Intifada in 1987. Palestinian pathologist Dr Hatem Abu Ghazaleh said there were many credible reports about this.
Roughly at the same time there was a flurry of news about successful transplants. It scared many people. And now we have the revelations about an organ traficking network with brokers in the USA, Turkey, Brazil and South Africa. The don of the whole operation is one Ilan Peri in Israel. Whether it is a matter of perception or fact, the question of organ theft should be addressed.

Ref: Haaretz comment

Two Haifa men sentenced to jail for organ trafficking

In a precedent-setting ruling yesterday the Haifa District Court yesterday sentenced two Haifa men to jail for trafficking in humans for the purpose of harvesting their organs.

John Allan (formerly Mohammad Gheit), 59, was sentenced to four years in jail with a three-year suspended sentence. Allan was also ordered to pay each of his six victims NIS 15,000. Hassan Zakhalka, 32, was sentenced to 20 months in prison and 12 months suspended sentence for aiding and abetting human trafficking for the harvest of organs.
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This is the first time an Israeli court has issued a conviction for this offense, based on a law passed at the end of last year.

The pair confessed to the charges against them in a plea bargain with the prosecution.

Allan and Zakhalka admitted that at the end of 2006, they persuaded Arabs from the Galilee and central Israel who were developmentally challenged or mentally ill to agree to have a kidney removed for payment. They located their victims by placing ads in the newspaper offering money for organ donation. According to the indictment, the pair gave false information to the donors, and also pressured and threatened them to give up their kidney. After the surgery, Allan and Zakhalka did not pay the donors as promised.

One of the victims was an illiterate 32-year-old single mother from an Arab village in central Israel. The pair told her she would undergo a simple operation, and she would be back on her feet in two days. At one point, the woman changed her mind, and in response Allan and Zakhalka threatened to report her to the police, telling her it was a crime to agree to donate a kidney. Like the other victims, the woman was flown to Ukraine where she underwent the surgery. When she returned home, the victims refused to pay her the $7,000 they had promised her.

Allan and Zakhalka were part of a criminal ring that included an Israeli surgeon, Dr. Michael Zis, who also worked at Assaf Harofeh Medical Center. According to the indictment, Zis sold the kidneys he harvested for between $125,000 and $135,000, of which Allan received $10,000 dollars. The State Prosecutor’s Office is preparing an extradition order against Zis, who is being held in prison in Ukraine.

The conviction of Allan and Zakhalka was made possible by an amendment to the criminal code that was passed in October 2006, which added a number of clauses prohibiting trafficking in humans for the purpose of harvesting organs. Judges Josef Elron, Ron Sokol and Menahem Raniel decided to accept the plea bargain because they said clear legal interpretation had not yet been formulated with regard to the crime of human trafficking for the purpose of harvesting organs, Lacking such clear interpretation of the clause, they said, “the parties might be dragged into presenting much complex evidence.”

Ref. Haaretz

Also read… Israel-Ukraine Organ Trafficking Ring, Romania probes Israeli adoption agency link in organ trafficking and Israeli suspected of organ trafficking

VIDEO: US Kids Organs to feed Israel´s Health System + Jew goes ballistic on reporter over rabbi arrests

“In 2002 the then State Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein ordered the police to investigate the head of the Institute of Forensice Medicine at Abu Kabir Prof. Yehuda Hiss because of suspected corruption and maladministration related to theft of organs.
This came after a growing list of relatives of deceased Jewish Israelis (among them Israeli soldiers) discovered that their loved ones had organs removed without consent. There was a long list of charges against Hiss ranging from unethical behaviour as a medical professional to criminal acts such as the illegal sale of and dealings in organs and body parts, removing organs from deceased persons without consent, and misrepresenting organs in returned bodies.
This did not even involve Palestinians, only Jewish Israelis.
The stories about Palestinian Intifada dead arriving home from Abu Kabir with their organs removed (for which there is hard evidence) begin to circulate widely in the 1990s.”

Ref: Comment from Haaretz