'IDF soldiers forced to take part in medical experiment'

Duhifat Battalion soldiers claim their commanders forced them to drink the magnesium in 1994 when they were new recruits.

idf recruits bakum 248 88 (photo credit: IDF [file])
idf recruits bakum 248 88
(photo credit: IDF [file])
Less than a month after an expert panel accused the defense establishment of "grave ethical failures" in testing an experimental anthrax vaccine on hundreds of soldiers, Israel Radio revealed Sunday that soldiers from the Duhifat Battalion were forced to participate in another experiment 15 years ago. According to the report, new recruits in the battalion who were stationed at the Adam Training Facility near Modi'in were ordered to drink magnesium on a daily basis for four months to see if it would prevent injuries caused by noise. Soldiers who participated in the experiment claimed that they were forced to drink the magnesium by their commanders. "If we didn't drink it then we were punished," one of the soldiers said. The soldiers also said they were not given details about the experiment or asked to sign a consent form before participating. The IDF Spokesperson's Office confirmed that an experiment had been conducted in 1994 in conjunction with the Health Ministry on 150 soldiers, but said that all were provided an explanation prior to the experiment. Commanders who punished soldiers for refusing to drink the magnesium acted against military procedures, the IDF statement continued. Last month, a panel of medical and legal experts said that soldiers who underwent an anthrax experiment were not properly informed of the possible risks. The Defense Ministry defended the experiment and said it was of "strategic importance to Israel's security." The experiment came when Saddam Hussein controlled Iraq, and it was feared he was developing chemical and biological weapons that could hit Israel. In its conclusions, the panel said it "was not convinced" that decision-makers properly evaluated the vaccine. It also called into question the motives of some scientists involved in developing the vaccine because of their links to anthrax research.