May 26, 2024

Unethical medical experiments in Israeli Army alleged

In violation of the Helsinki Accords

The Israeli Defence Force conducted unethical medical experiments
on more than 700 of its troops in the late 1990s, an expert panel has
found. The tests were conducted in violation of the 1975 Helsinki
Accords, although the side effects were fairly minor and only a few
dozen people were affected.

The story came to light after some soldiers complained of
headaches and dizziness and skin, respiratory and digestive problems
after participating in tests for an anthrax vaccine. They were
conducted when it was feared that Saddam Hussein was developing
chemical and biological weapons to lob into Israel with his Scud
missiles. The Israeli Defence Ministry has defended the experiment,
saying that it was of "strategic importance to Israel’s

The panel found that "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."

Opinions are divided in Israel about the experiments. Israeli
Physicians for Human Rights have filed a lawsuit in protest against
what they see as unethical behaviour by the military. But a committee
of the Israel Medical Association concluded that the experiment’s
directors conducted the tests in good faith. “We were impressed by
the experiment’s directors and medical supervisor’s credibility,”
it said, “and of the fact that they were convinced that they were
doing the best they could do in order to advance what they saw as a
worthy project." ~ Haaretz,
Mar 31
; AP,
Mar 26