Court still undecided on report of anthrax testing on soldiers

2007 TV report interviewed soldiers who claimed to suffer from side effects that affected various systems in their bodies.

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February 17, 2009 23:15
1 minute read.
Court still undecided on report of anthrax testing on soldiers

anthrax 248.88. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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The High Court of Justice once again deferred a decision Tuesday on whether to allow the publication of a report prepared by an Israel Medical Association committee investigating the giving of anthrax vaccine to over 700 soldiers who served as "guinea pigs" to determine side effects. The story was initially disclosed by Ilana Dayan's Uvda TV program in 2007 after she received complaints from soldiers who claimed to suffer from side effects that affected various systems in their bodies. The IDF's then-surgeon general, Dr. Chezy Levy, asked Prof. Avinoam Reches, then head of the IMA's ethics bureau, to set up a voluntary committee of experts to study the matter. Levy is today deputy director-general in charge of medical services at the Health Ministry, which has not taken any action regarding the vaccinations. The IMA committee was chaired by Prof. Reuven Porat, chief of internal medicine at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov). The committee members heard testimony from hundreds of soldiers who had been vaccinated, allegedly without being warned about possible side effects. Although the report is ready for publication, the Defense Ministry's office in charge of state security petitioned the High Court to prevent its publication, arguing that its release would "endanger public security." The IMA denied this. No one knows what is in the 100-page report (plus documents) except for the judges, IMA committee members and Reches. On Tuesday, Justice Asher Gronis, who headed the three-judge panel, said he read the report and did not get the impression that its publication might hurt national security, but that perhaps there was a legitimate reason for the Defense Ministry's objections. He dispatched thanks (via the IMA lawyers) for working hard to prepare the report. The court did not issue an opinion or ruling, but apparently may decide to send the report again to the Defense Ministry's office in charge of state security for an additional examination.

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