Israeli Government Elusive As To Smallpox Vaccinations Even Though Many Experts Want Population Vaccinated Now
9 July 2002
Three former Israeli army medical officers and public health experts added their voices Monday, July 8, to the rising chorus calling for mass anti-smallpox vaccinations without delay.
In the United States, the federal government is preparing to vaccinate 500,000 health care and emergency workers, as well as laying plans to immunize the whole population. Last year, the US government ordered millions of doses of smallpox vaccine - enough for every man, woman and child.
Public vaccination against smallpox stopped all over the world in the 1970s when the World Health Organization declared the fatal disease eradicated. According to the British magazine New Scientist, no one today can be sure of immunity. The smallpox scar on your arm from before that date can no longer be counted on to protect you from infection.
Yet in Jerusalem, the health ministry sees no need to immunize the public at this time, refuses to publish concrete plans to vaccinate against smallpox or even reveal how many doses it has in stock.
For some months, DEBKAfile has been following the potential for mega-terror attacks and nuclear, chemical or biological strikes in Israel posed by Palestinians terrorists and other hostile parties. Intelligence WMD experts see three possible sources of this menace:
1. Palestinians controlled by Yasser Arafats machine of terror, specifically his Fatah groups al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, as well as the Islamist Hamas. Both are capable of unconventional terrorism at a primitive level, such as stuffing explosive devices and bomb belts with toxic or bacterial substances or carrying the infection in their own bodies. The blast would instantaneously flood a crowded area or large building with the poison.
2. Palestinian terrorists serving the Iraqi military intelligence cells planted in the West Bank. Intelligence estimates speak of suicide killers secreting smallpox, anthrax, botulism, as well as nerve gases in public places. All it would take is a lone terrorist smashing a test tube in a public convenience, elevator or busy foyer.
3. Hizballah and al Qaeda infiltrators from Lebanon, Syria, by air or by sea.
Israeli officials explain their inaction by the fear of sowing general panic. However, Israelis have been living at an abnormally high state of perturbation since September 2000. The last thing they need to boost national morale is uncertainty about the ability of their health authorities to speedily and effectively protect them against WMD.