The Ness Ziona Chemical & Biological Inst.
The Al-Taji family's house until 1948
 
  Ness Ziona Chemical & Biological Institute    
 

 

At the Chemical and Biological Institute in Ness Ziona, scientists develop chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction i.e. weapons to eliminate citizens.

In March 1948, David Ben Gurion, Israel's first Prime Minister, wrote to Ehud Avriel, who he had sent to buy weapons in Europe for the war, and commanded him to find East European Jewish scientists who could "either increase the capacity to kill masses or to cure masses; both are important" (From Avner Cohen "Israel and the Bomb"). This was Ben Gurion's first statement showing his intent to use biological and chemical weapons. Avriel did indeed find such scientists including Dr Marcos, the later founder of the Chemical and Biological Institute and its first Deputy Director. In 1983, an Israeli court convicted Marcos for spying for the Russians.

You may be surprised to know that Israel used biological weapons during the 1948 war. According to the book "The Last Taboo" by Avner Cohen, on the 22nd May 1948, the Egyptians caught two Israeli soldiers, Ezra Afghin (Horeen) and David Mizrahi dressed as Arabs holding a flask of water. Inside the flask were two levels. One contained plain drinking water and the other, a liquid full of Typhus and Dysentery germs. The two were captured near water wells North of Gaza, intending to poison the wells to harm soldiers of the Egyptian army. On 22nd August, both men were executed after being convicted by a court for poisoning wells. The two belonged to the HaShakar unit, a Palmach unit that masqueraded as Arabs. The bacteria were produced by the scientific unit of the Haganah.

This was not the only case. In April 1948, the city of Acre's water system was poisoned with Typhus germs. The germs were spread via the Roman aqueduct that passes ten kilometers North of Acre, near Al-Kabri and supplied the city's drinking water. According to documents declassified in recent years, on the 6th May of the same year, many cases of typhoid erupted suddenly in the area. The British Army and Red Cross medics found 70 cases of the disease. It was clear that the disease was coming from the water source and was not being caused by poor sanitation, as the Israelis claimed. A week before the British left Palestine, the British Mandate Authorities instructed the Arab residents of Israel to drink water only from the city's wells. They started to chlorinate the aqueduct. The Zionists' claim that poor sanitation caused the epidemic was dismissed when 55 British soldiers were also infected and rushed to the Royal Hospital in Port Said Egypt. These were soldiers who were not exposed to bad sanitation during combat. According to the British army, it was the first case of typhus in Palestine under their mandate. The British even flew a Red Cross doctor to Jerusalem to obtain medication.

The planning to establish an Institute for Biology started in 1948. In 1950, construction work started near Ness Ziona and it opened in 1952. Israel had decided it needed a scientific unit. They had already created one unit, Hemed A, but Israel wanted to go further and created Hemed B. From the day it was established, Hemed B was directly under the Prime Minister's office i.e. David Ben Gurion. It was not part of the Ministry of Defense nor was it in the IDF' portfolio. Dr Alex Cannan was the institute's first director. Dr Robert Goldwasser later replaced him.

As with Israel's nuclear weapons programme, no democratic discussion took place between Israel's decision makers as to whether to produce biological or chemical weapons. Not in the cabinet or the Knesset and not amongst the public. Only David Ben Gurion made this decision, together with a few select scientists and military officials.

According to the Hebrew book "The Last Spy" by Marcus Klingberg, Ben Gurion decided information about this was on a need to know basis so he hid it from his government Ministers, who did not know the actual activity of the Institute. He especially hid it from ministers who he knew would disapprove of such activities. "For example, there was a certain understanding among the Institute management that you had to hide information about the Institute's military and security activities from the Foreign Minister and the former Prime Minister, Moshe Sharett. "He doesn't need to know what we are doing here," Keinan said to me, "and so I showed Sharett only the well-known research." (Marcus Klingberg, The Last Spy p. 158-159).

With the establishment of the IDF, the scientific department of the Haganah was turned into the Hemet. Alex Keinan, at that time a doctor of microbiology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, gathered around him chemists and biologists and established a research unit into biological warfare. According to Avner Cohen, on the 18th February 1948 under orders from Ben-Gurion and Yigael Yadin, Keinan and his people moved from Jerusalem to occupied Jaffa and later to Abu Kabir where they established a secret unit later called Hemed B. Its purpose was to develop and manufacture chemical and biological weapons i.e. to develop diseases and aggressive bacteria suitable for use on the battlefield. They hid this simple truth by having part of the Biological Institute deal with civilian science such as inventing and developing mediciNess.

The story of Kleinberg's spying threw some light on the level of hoNesst information the press published for the public on Ness Ziona Biological Institute. In the 50's and 60's, Kleinberg passed information to the Russians whilst he was the Institute's Deputy Director. He was caught only in 1983, two decades after he was involved in developing chemical and biological weapons. The Israeli public was not informed about this matter until 1993, despite the International press publishing his story in 1985. The people who really objected to publication of any information about this incident was the Malmab, the security body in charge of information and secrets. It stated at court the unforgettable sentence: "Marcus Klinberg knows somethings that he doesn't know." They said he should not be released because he could say things unaware of their importance. Needless to say, the court accepted this explanation.

More evidence of the real purpose of the Ness Ziona Institute surfaced when an El Al cargo plane crashed on the outskirts of Amsterdam in Holland in 1992 (flight LY1862). The airplane, type Boeing 747 crashed into two residential buildings and killed at least 43 residents. It was initially reported that the plane was transporting fruit, perfumes and computers. The reality was very different. It took a 6-year journalistic investigation to expose the fact that the plane, on its way to Israel, was carrying 190 liters of the chemical Dimethyl Methylphosphonate (DMMP) and two other chemicals, Hydrofluoric Acid and Isopro-Panol. Three out of four of these chemicals are used to produce the nerve gas Sarin. The cargo's destination was the Ness Ziona Biological Institute. The chemicals were sent by Sulktronik Chemical Company, Pennsylvania, USA.

 

Photocopy of the delivery docket from EL-AL Flight 1862
Chemicals from Pennsylvania for Ness Ziona Institute, Reuven Street, Ness Ziona 70400

 

Israel tried to claim that all the chemicals were intended for defensive purposes, i.e. to test the effectiveNesss of gas masks. However, for this kind of test you only need a few grams and not huge quantities. Some experts estimate that the amount of material on the plane was enough to produce 270 kgs of Sarin gas. Enough to eliminate the entire population of the largest cities in the world.

The day following the crash, approximately twenty people around the crash site were spotted wearing white overalls, taking and hiding evidence. People, who according to the testimony of the residents, did not speak Dutch. During the years following the crash, thousands of local residents developed neural diseases. The local hospital recorded a spike in cancer. The number of babies born with deformities also increased.

The type of toxic material Israel has developed was demonstrated when the Mossad attempted to assassinate the Palestinian, Khalid Mashal, head of the political bureau of Hamas. On 25th September 1997, two Mossad agents sprinkled a few drops of a chemical onto the neck of Mashal in the Jordanian capital of Amman. The poisonous drops entered his ear. Mashal was taken, dying, to the hospital. The doctors could not discover the source of his illNesss. It was only because Jordanian police spotted and arrested the agents and King Hussein threatened to make a political crisis against Israel, that Israel supplied the antidote.

Between 1998 and 2006, the Ness Ziona Biological Institute carried out experiments on human beings to find the effectiveNesss of a new immunization against anthrax. The kind of anthrax they engineered was MASC-10. As part of a secret experiment, called "Omer 2", 700 doses of immunity were injected into 700 soldiers from an elite army unit. The IDF did not tell the soldiers what the injections were or the potential dangers to their health if the immunization failed. Under International Law, human experiments are prohibited as a crime against humanity after the Nazis experimented on people during the Holocaust.

The anthrax experiment was only discovered after dozens of the soldiers began suffering from strange symptoms such as severe pneumonia, skin tumors, migraine attacks, bronchitis, epilepsy and incurable diseases. The story was leaked to the media and eventually reached the High Court (Click here to watch a special report in Hebrew from May 2007). Click here to read the committee's report in Hebrew. (PDF, December 2008).

So what is really produced at the Ness Ziona Chemical and Biological Institute? According to Avner Cohen's book, the most detailed research about this subject was carried out by a Dutch journalist, Karel Knip, for the daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad. Knif scanned all the open scientific publications published by the Institute since its establishment and, with biological chemical and weapons experts, published a comprehensive document detailing what Nez Ziona was developing and producing.

Knip supplied Cohen with an English translation of the nine-page Dutch document. According to the document, the Biological Institute produced Sarin nerve gas and Tabon-VX. In addition, the Institute developed chemicals that could paralyze a person i.e chemicals that worked on the nervous system but wouldn't kill. "In a survey of the biological section of the Institute, Knif recognized a list of germs, bacteria, viruses, toxins and paralysers that the Institute was researching. In the beginning of the mid 1950's, the activities of the Institute were focused on well-known diseases such as rabies, the bubonic plague and typhus. Later however, the focus of the Institute was to examine how diseases could be carried, for example using insects such as cockroaches, mosquito's and fleas etc." From Avner Cohen "The Last Taboo", p. 293-294.

According to Knif, the list of materials manufactured in Ness Ziona included Tabon, Soman, Sarin, rVX, Cyclon, Psycho Sarin and Amiton. Cohen claims that you can conclude from these findings Israel was only engaged in developing protection against chemical or biological weapons. To defend from such threats, you need to possess such weapons so you can carry out research on them. However, the El Al crash leaves no doubt that the plane was carrying such vast quantities of chemicals to be inconsistent with a simplistic research interpretation.


The Institute currently has 350 employees. 150 are scientists with PhDs in biology, biochemistry, biotechnology, mathematics and organic chemistry. The head of the Institute today is Dr. Avigdor Shefferman, appointed to the job in 1995. Shefferman replaced Professor Alexander Cohen.

According to Klinberg's book, for years scientists from Ness Ziona Biological Institute who wanted to make a PHD on their research for the Institute, applied to The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. To be awarded a PhD, doctoral applicants must ordinarily publish their experiments and findings. However in the case of Ness Ziona scientists, their doctoral research has been classified secret and never released. But they were still received PhD's! This is a situation that apparently does not exist in any other academic institution in the world.

The Institute is located in a building belonging to the Palestinian Al-Taji family, who were forced to flee to Gaza during the 1948 Nakba. Above you can see a photo of the building built by the father of the family, Shukri Al Taji. Below is a picture of the building today. The building was originally surrounded by orange orchards. It lies 500 meters south of the road junction that connects road 4303 to road 42.

Sources:

All information is taken from public sources and has been published many times.

The cargo waybill was taken from the Dutch website www.sdnl.nl 

More information about the contents of the cargo plane appears in English on this site. And in articles by the New York Times.
For more information Google: EL AL flight LY1862 IIBR DMMP