Israeli soldiers sue over exposure to anthrax

The Israeli Defense Ministry has been sued by 64 former soldiers for approximately $4.8 million over claims that they suffered damage from experiments in the early 1990s involving an anthrax vaccine.

The experiments, nicknamed "Omer 2," were used to determine the efficacy of an anthrax vaccine. Omer 2 followed what was believed at the time to be the threat of a biological attack from Israel.

Omer 2 involved 716 Israeli Defense Force soldiers, which had been pared down from a pool of 4,000 soldiers.

The soldiers' lawsuit, which was filed with the Petah Tikva District Court, follows the principle that says anyone deciding to take part in an experiment must do so willingly and only after considering the risks involved.

The lawsuit cites an Israel Medical Association report that called the experiments unjustifiable. The report says that Israel was already in possession of a stockpile of vaccines while the experiments took place.

"An accelerated effort to produce large quantities of the vaccine was underway a year prior to the experiment, and by the time the experiments were launched, Israel had enough vaccines to cover the civilian concerns," the report said, according to

"No scientific justification was found for the experiment, scientific background was lacking, the experiment's design and execution did not suit its goals, and no result would have justified those goals," the report said. "Also, conventional guidelines were not followed, risks and possible side effects were not thoroughly investigated, and a follow-up mechanism to keep track of participating soldiers was not set up."

The soldiers' lawsuit also demands that Israel reveal the ingredients of the serum used as well as approximately $80,000 in damages for each plaintiff for mental anguish and emotional distress.