Defense attempting to block report about anthrax trial
The Defense Ministry is attempting to block or delay the release of a new report criticizing the Israel Institute for Biological Research in Nes Tziona for its experiment on an anthrax vaccine, which allegedly afflicted the trial subjects.
Shortly before the committee, established by the Israeli doctors union, was due to publish its report last month, Amir Kain, director of security for the defense establishment, demanded to see the report to ensure it did not reveal state secrets. The committee refused, saying the report was not damaging to state security and that the defense establishment had already scrutinized and censored certain documents associated with the report.
The state prosecution, representing Kain, petitioned the High Court of Justice to block the report from being released, and the court issued a temporary injunction to delay publication.
The doctors union and some Israel Defense Forces soldiers, who were vaccinated as part of the experiment, filed a counter-petition to immediately release the report. The High Court will discuss the issue today. If the report is released, criticizing the biological research institute, its director, Avigdor Shafferman, and the IDF Medical Corps - all of which were involved in the experiment, it could support the soldiers' demand that the state recognize the injustice done to them and compensate them accordingly.
The committee, headed by Prof. Reuven Porat, was established by the Medical Corps to clear its name of any involvement in the controversial experiment. The once-secret experiment, called Omer Two, began in 1998 and lasted eight years.
In the experiment, which was conducted under the auspices of the army's Helsinki committee on human experimentation, 716 IDF soldiers were given seven doses of an anti-anthrax vaccine developed by the Nes Tziona biological institute. But despite the involvement of the Helsinki committee, the mandated procedures were not followed in full, and there was no extended medical supervision of the vaccinated soldiers.
A year and a half ago, a group of soldiers vaccinated in the experiment asked the IDF and Defense Ministry for all the details of the experiment, saying they suffered from debilitating side effects.
The army and Defense Ministry ignored the request and would not recognize the soldiers as disabled veterans - eligible for benefits from the IDF.
The soldiers petitioned the High Court to instruct the relevant authorities to provide all the relevant data and establish a state commission of inquiry into the anthrax experiment.
Kain said in response that he had no intention of blocking the publication, only of making sure that state secrets were not revealed in the report.
Kain also said he did not plan to attempt to shield the Nes Tziona Institute and/or its director Shafferman, from criticism.