Following diplomatic tensions over an August article published in Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet accusing the Israeli army of illegally harvesting the organs of Palestinians, Israel has admitted its forensic pathologists removed organs from dead bodies without consent from their families, reports the Associated Press.
Over the weekend, a 2000 interview carried out by an American anthropology professor with Dr. Jehuda Hiss, the then head of Israel's Abu Kabir forensic institute, was broadcast on Israel's Channel 2 TV.
In the interview, Hiss admitted to harvesting corneas and that "no permission was asked from the family."
The Israeli military confirmed that skin, corneas, heart valves and bones from Israeli soldiers, Israeli citizens, Palestinians and foreign workers had been harvested at Abu Kabir throughout the 1990s, AP reports.
Hiss said that the practice ended in 2000.
"This activity ended a decade ago and does not happen any longer," the Israeli Defence Forces said in a statement quoted by Channel 2.
Aftonbladet's article, 'Våra söner plundras på sina organ' ('They plunder the organs of our sons'), sparked a months-long diplomatic row between Israel and Sweden, with repeated calls from Israel for official condemnation of the article by the Swedish government.
Published in August, the Aftonbladet article by photographer and writer Donald Boström claimed the Israeli army had been involved in the illegal human organ trade. Boström linked allegations of organ harvesting made by individual Palestinians to a New York-based crime suspect, Rabbi Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, who had been accused of attempting to facilitate the sale of a kidney from a donor in Israel.
The organs were harvested from individuals who died from various causes, but AP reported that there has been no evidence to back up Aftonbladet's claim that Israeli soldiers killed Palestinians for their organs.
Original Headline: Israeli Military Admits to Organ Harvesting