Findings on Gulf War Vaccine Tests Continue to Haunt Israel

by VR Sreeraman on  March 26, 2009 at 12:39 PM General Health News   - G J E 4
Israeli soldiers subjected to "unnecessary" testing as part of the army's bid to find an anthrax vaccine around the 1991 Gulf war were not adequately warned of the risks, a declassified report said on Wednesday.
 Findings on Gulf War Vaccine Tests Continue to Haunt Israel
Findings on Gulf War Vaccine Tests Continue to Haunt Israel

The state was forced to release the findings, first leaked by a private television channel two years ago, following an order from the high court.

The activities of the Nes Tziona germ warfare defence research centre outside Tel Aviv are normally subject to strict military censorship.

The findings of the medical commission of inquiry released by the court found that the tests on the 716 soldiers aimed at producing a vaccine for the main biological weapon believed at the time to be in then Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's arsenal were not even necessary.

Israel already had at least a million doses of anthrax vaccine in its stocks at the time, the inquiry found.

The commission also sharply criticised the secrecy that had surrounded the entire operation.

Public radio said several dozen soldiers were believed to have fallen ill after the tests, some of them developing epilepsy.

It was not immediately clear from the documents released exactly when in the early 1990s the tests were carried out -- before or after the US-led offensive of 1991 to free Kuwait from Saddam's troops.

The Iraqi invasion of the emirate in August 1990 had sparked widespread panic in Israel amid fears that Saddam's armed forces had both non-conventional warheads and the missile systems to deliver them to targets inside the Jewish state.

In all, 39 Iraqi Scud missiles hit Israel but in the event none of them carried biological, chemical or nuclear warheads.

The defence ministry said the so-called Omer-2 tests had been carried out in a bid to defend the civilian population against any non-conventional attack, a goal that had now been achieved.

"Israel is now capable of protecting the civilian population against this serious threat," the ministry said.

Source: AFP

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