Posted on November 16, 1998 in Washington Watch

Last August the United States destroyed a Sudanese pharmaceutical plant mistakenly suspected of producing chemical and biological weapons (CBW). The United States is now poised to launch missile strikes against Iraq because of that regime’s suspected CBW program.

This aggressive policy to combat the spread of deadly weapons of mass destruction ignores, however, what appears to be a substantial CBW program in Israel.

During the past month, a few scattered press reports have presented both dramatic evidence and strong suggestions of Israel’s efforts in this field. Since all of the revelations have either appeared in the mainstream Israeli press or been confirmed by official Israeli sources, they can not be dismissed as mere propaganda.

First was the October 1st admission by the Israeli government that its El Al cargo plane that crashed into an apartment building in 1992 did in fact carry a sizeable shipment of deadly Sarin gas components.

This admission confirmed the revelations of a report that had appeared in a Dutch newspaper.

The 1992 El Al crash resulted in the death of 43 people. But in the past six years at least 1,200 residents of the crash site’s neighborhood have complained of mysterious illnesses including skin disease, birth defects and cancer. There were a number of mysterious events that occurred immediately after the crash, including the presence of suspicious investigators dressed in what were described as “space suits”. These “investigators” were not involved in rescue operations, but were seen removing evidence from the plane. This evidence has never been located.

In an effort to get to the bottom of this mystery, the Dutch newspaper pieced together the evidence that remained and discovered the presence of 800 pounds of uranium and substantial amounts of three of the chemicals needed to make deadly nerve gas.

It was only after this revelation, that the Israeli government offered its admission. The Dutch Parliament has ordered a full inquiry to determine whether their government participated with the Israelis in a cover-up of this incident.

A few days later the Sunday Times of London reported that Israeli military sources confirmed that “Israeli assault aircraft have been equipped to carry chemical and biological weapons”. They identified the site where these weapons were produced as the same location where the cargo of the crashed El Al plane was to have been delivered.

The article went on to note that the Israeli plant “manufactures not only chemical and biological weapons for use in bombs, but for more unusual weapons as well”. The article quoted an Israeli source as noting that “there is not a single known or unknown form of chemical and biological weapon which is not manufactured” at the site.

One of these weapons was identified as the poison that was used in the 1997 assassination attempt against Hamas leader Khaled Mishal.

One other bizarre and even more disturbing weapon apparently developed at the Israeli plant was identified in an October 29th Jerusalem Post report as a so called “ethnic bullet.” This is a biological weapon that claims to be designed uniquely to effect the genetic system of Arabs. It was claimed to have been developed in cooperation with South African scientists who during apartheid sought to design a similar weapon that would only effect blacks. While this story cannot be verified, it is precisely the fact that there are no inspections of Israeli facilities despite significant evidence of CBW development that allows stories such as this to cause great concern.

All of this evidence highlights a serious problem that can not be ignored. Israel has signed but never ratified the international convention against chemical and biological weapons and its scientific facilities, like its nuclear installations, have never been open to international inspections.

This evidence that Israel has developed and weaponized CBW and in the case of Khaled Mishal, has actually used such weapons ought to receive greater international attention than it has up until now.

It is only logical to assert that to be effective and credible any international effort to rid the Middle East of chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction must be universal and consistent.

For comments or information, contact jzogby@aaiusa.org

comments powered by Disqus