Health Ministry epidemiologists and cancer experts have begun to collect data on seven children and teenagers in Kiryat Gat, who were recently diagnosed with various cancers. Two of them have died, causing panic in the southern development town of 60,000.
Dr. Michael Gdalevich, the district physician, said it would take "a day or two" to collect the data but longer to reach conclusions - if any can possibly be reached - about the causes of the cancer.
"They do not live on the same street, and not all are in the same neighborhood. It is very difficult to trace the causes of specific cases of cancer as people change addresses, and the amount of time they live in a specific place varies. There are also genetic factors in cancer," he said.
The cases included neuroblastoma - involving the nervous system - and various types of sarcoma, soft-tissue tumors. Gdalevich said he was consulting with Professor Micha Barchana, head of Israel's Cancer Registry, on the cases.
"We will try to trace any common sources of exposure to environmental risks," he added, "and look at the position of cellular antennas." But he said, it may be that a common cause of the cancers may never be established, and that the youngsters may have contracted the disease spontaneously.
Some Kiryat Gat parents said they would prevent their children from going to school until the mystery was solved.