Human Experiments

Discharged soldiers sue for millions over Anthrax experiment

Dozens of soldiers who took part in experiment in early 1990s aimed at determining efficacy of Anthrax vaccine demand $80,000 each in damages. 'Physical harm was passed down to our children,' plaintiff says

Vered Luvitch

Published:  03.28.10,/ Israel News,7340,L-3869416,00.html

Sixty-four former IDF soldiers are suing the Defense Ministry for NIS 18 million ($4.8 million) over what they claim is damage caused to them during Anthrax vaccine experiments in the early 1990s.


The experiments, which were meant to determine the efficacy of an Anthrax vaccine, were carried out in light of what was then defined at the time as the "strategic threat of a surprise biological attack facing Israel."


Nicknamed "Omer 2," the experiments included 716 IDF soldiers picked out of a pool of 4,000.


The lawsuit, filed with the Petah Tikva District Court, is based on the principle according to which anyone who decides to take part in an experiment must do so willingly and after considering the risks involved.


As part of the lawsuit the soldiers are demanding that the state reveal the ingredients of the serum that was given to them, in addition to NIS 300,000 (about $80,000) in damages to each plaintiff for mental anguish and emotional distress resulting from the involuntary use of one's body and medical negligence.


In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs cited an Israel Medical Association (IMA) report according to which the experiments were unjustifiable.


 The report revealed that even while the experiment was taking place Israel already had a stock of vaccines. "An accelerated effort to produce large quantities of the vaccine was underway a year prior to the experiment, and by the time the experiments were launched, Israel had enough vaccines to cover the civilian concerns," the report said.


"No scientific justification was found for the experiment, scientific background was lacking, the experiment's design and execution did not suit its goals, and no result would have justified those goals. Also, conventional guidelines were not followed, risks and possible side effects were not thoroughly investigated, and a follow-up mechanism to keep track of participating soldiers was not set up," it said.


Dorit Tahan, one of the plaintiffs, said, "In light of the security establishment's lack of respect for human life, we have no choice but to turn to the court in order to teach the IDF a lesson in responsibility."


 "We now know that the physical harm caused to the soldiers was also passed down to their children," she said. 


Israel admits to testing anthrax vaccine on troops

Cleared for publication: Defense Ministry admits to experimenting on 716 IDF soldiers during secret research project without disclosing full details; defense official: Israel now possesses anthrax vaccine that can protect entire population

Hanan Greenberg

Published:  03.25.09, 19:58 / Israel News,7340,L-3692344,00.html

Israel has admitted to developing a vaccine against anthrax, fearing it might be used as a bio-weapon by enemy nations against civilians, and tested it on IDF soldiers.


The story was cleared for publication Wednesday evening by the High Court of Justice. The research project, codenamed "Omer 2," was kept secret for many years.


 "Once we face a substantial threat, we would be able to vaccinate all citizens, ranging from babies to the elderly, and protect them against the virus," a senior defense source told Ynet.



Chemical weapons drill in US (Archive photo: AP)


The Israeli research project, which included the participation of experts from Israel and abroad, got underway in the early 1990s. Over the years, American military and medical officials took part in the process and the first experiments were undertaken in the US. At the end of the research and development project, a decision was taken to produce the vaccine in Israel and look into its effect on civilians.



Israeli medical and defense officials said the research adhered to the highest standards.


'Project of trategic importance'

The defense establishment's anthrax research was presented to 4029 potential volunteers, 716 of whom eventually took part in the experiment, half of them career officers. However, there are disagreements as to the nature of the volunteer participation. Some of them claim that they received vague information about the nature of the experiment. Defense officials said the full details could not be revealed due to secrecy considerations.


However, participants were given basic information and details about possible side-effects.

Following the experiment, doctors monitored the volunteers for a period of four years. So far, 11 soldiers sought medical attention due to side-effects apparently sustained as result of the tests.


Meanwhile, defense officials have rejected a request by a group of volunteers who recently petitioned the High Court to establish a commission of inquiry into the matter. The defense establishment noted that the research project held strategic importance for national security.


"Thanks to it, Israel can provide a medical response to the entire population against a very grave threat," the defense establishment said. "We thank the volunteers and appreciate their willingness to participate in this important research project and their contribution to the security of all citizens of Israel."