Soldiers Sue Over Being Nerve Gas Guinea Pigs

Soldiers Sue Over Being Nerve Gas Guinea Pigs

Herald Sun
February 19, 2008

A GROUP of former Israeli army recruits are suing the government for compensation after it allegedly made them unwitting guinea pigs by testing them for nerve gas antidotes, a newspaper reported.

The army claims the testing was carried out by volunteers.

“We were laboratory rats for the army,” Avi Yogev, 55, referring to a case dating back to 1971, told Yediot Aharonot newspaper.

“We were guinea pigs for Tsahal (the army) and today we are paying the price.

“They told us we were participating in a secret project,” Mr Yogev said, explaining that the soldiers were told during training that they had to participate or would not be allowed to serve in a combat unit.

“They had us swallow pills. We suffered from vomiting and diarrhoea. It was not until years later that we discovered that they had given us medicine against nerve gas after having tested it on animals.”

Mr Yogev said the suit named the army, the defence ministry and the Nes Tsiona biological research institute as defendants.

Yediot said the tests lasted for 11 days, during which the recruits were separated into three groups and placed in isolation at Tel Hashomer base, near Tel Aviv. It said they were given dozens of pills, and the experiment continued despite their vomiting and diarrhoea.

The newspaper said the soldiers had since suffered from heart disease, skin ailments, respiratory and liver problems and hypertension.

The army did not deny the facts, nor did it comment on whether it considered the tests to have been appropriate.

An army statement said that a list “detailing the products and medicines given to the volunteers during the tests has been provided to the lawyer representing the plaintiffs”.

“The army’s medical department has set up a special unit to gather complaints from soldiers who say they participated in these laboratory tests,” the statement added, with the department for rehabilitation “examining the case files in order to follow up on them”.

In May, the army acknowledged that experiments had also been conducted on Israeli soldiers for a vaccine against anthrax in the late 1990s over fears of a possible Iraqi attack. It said 700 soldiers had volunteered for those tests.

During the 1991 Gulf War, during which Iraq fired 39 Scud missiles on Israel, the authorities distributed gas masks to all citizens as a precaution against attacks with unconventional weapons.


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