News / Middle East

Israel Practices Biological Attack Response

Scott Bobb

The Israeli government has carried out a two-day exercise it says is aimed at boosting preparedness for any terrorist attack aimed at sparking an outbreak of a highly contagious disease. Israeli officials emphasize the biological weapons drill is routine, but it comes amid rising tensions in the region, particularly from Iran.

Ha-Emek Hospital in Afula, 100 kilometers north of Tel Aviv. Personnel are responding to a simulated biological weapons attack.

In this exercise no one knows what contagious agent has been used, anthrax, botulism or another deadly organism. The staff must identify the agent and within hours begin vaccinating the local population against it.

Israeli Assistant Defense Minister Ze'ev Snir is in charge of the program. He says the drill is held each year in a different part of Israel.

"This is a general preparedness that we are trying to work on," said Snir.  "I believe that our Ministry of Health is at a good level of preparedness. And this kind of drill will make us even better prepared."

The exercise comes amid rising tensions in the region. Western governments last week tightened sanctions against Iran after the United Nations nuclear agency (IAEA) said it had evidence that Iran was trying to build a nuclear bomb.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for even tougher measures.

"Iran is developing nuclear weapons. It is important to impose sanctions, tough sanctions, on this regime - even tougher than those that have been imposed over the past few days," said Netanyahu.

Israel's defense minister said the country does not want to take military action against Iran over its nuclear program, but at some point may have no other option. Iran says it would retaliate if attacked. And so would its allies in neighboring Lebanon and Gaza.

Several rockets fired from Lebanon landed Tuesday 50 kilometers north of Afula, without causing casualties.

Shlomo Brom, an analyst with the Institute of National Security Studies, says he believes a military strike against Iran is only a distant possibility.

"Certainly there are discussions in the Israeli government on the option of an Israeli attack against the Iranian nuclear program as a last resort. But I do not think that it is imminent," Brom explained.

In January, security forces will hold another drill, this one responding to a simulated radiological attack such as from a uranium-laced weapon or "dirty bomb."

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid