Israeli Chemist Arrested for Selling Cyanide to Palestinians

Miriam Dumfrucht, 49, was earlier caught for the same offense but later let off with a warning.

A chemist who was arrested on Monday on suspicion of selling cyanide and other dangerous materials to possibly hostile Palestinians had earlier been caught in the same offense, but let off with a warning, Haaretz has learned.

Two months ago, members of the "Green Police" - the Environmental Protection Ministry's enforcement unit - visited a Palestinian living near Ramallah who had been found with several kilograms of cyanide in his possession. The man told the inspectors that he bought the cyanide from Miriam Dumfrucht, a 49-year-old chemist who once owned a firm, now defunct, that sold hazardous materials. The Green Police summoned her for a hearing, at which she said this was the first time she had sold cyanide to a resident of the Palestinian Authority.

The Green Police also filed a report with the regular police, who arrested her. However, they decided against filing charges and let her off with a warning.

Moreover, about four years ago, the Environmental Protection Ministry suspected Dumfrucht of selling liquid GHB - the active ingredient in a well-known "date rape drug" - to another Israeli, who allegedly used it to produce the drug. After the police encountered difficulties in proving their case against the other suspect, however, the ministry closed its probe against Dumfrucht. A ministry official claimed yesterday that there was considerable evidence of Dumfrucht's involvement in selling GHB, but the police refused to take over the case.

On Monday night, police raided a warehouse belonging to Dumfrucht in Tel Aviv and seized several containers of hazardous materials, including five kilograms of cyanide, that she is not authorized to possess. She allegedly sold these materials to West Bank Palestinians, and the security forces fear that they could be used in terror attacks against Israel.

The Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court yesterday remanded her for four days.