‘U.S. funded anthrax vaccine trials on IDF soldiers’

(Haaretz)- The United States provided some $200 million to fund a top secret laboratory and assembly line in Israel which developed and produced a vaccine for anthrax, according to the Internet news site Intelligence Online. The exact location of the lab, which is reported to be run by the Nes Tziona-based Israel Institute for Biological Research, was not mentioned in the report.

By Yossi Melman, Haaretz Correspondent

The Intelligence Online story focused on the legal battle being waged by Israel Defense Forces soldiers who took part in an army-run test of the anthrax vaccine 13 years ago.

According to the report, the U.S. sought to develop an improved vaccine against anthrax following the 1991 Gulf War. Because U.S. authorities feared they would have difficulty in winning approval to conduct a trial, Washington requested that the IBR conduct the experiments and share the results of the trials.

Last month, a panel established by the Israel Medical Associated stated that anthrax vaccine experiments conducted on IDF soldiers in the early 1990s were scientifically unjustifiable.

The experiments, carried out by the IDF’s Medical Corps and the Nes Tziona Biological Institute, meant to determine the efficacy of an anthrax vaccine.

The experiments were carried out in light of what was then defined as the “strategic threat” of a surprise biological attack facing Israel. However, the report said that it was not clear who made the decision.

The experiment, nicknamed “Omer 2,” was held during the first part of the 1990s and included 716 IDF soldiers picked out of a pool of 4,000.

Following a three-month legal battle in Israel’s High Court of Justice, the report was finally approved for publication, though some references about Israel’s relations with a foreign country were deleted.

The report on the experiment was drafted by a special committee of doctors, a legal advisor, and a scientist from the Weizmann Institute of Science.

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