Israel has updated its biological defense efforts to counter threats from terrorists and regional rivals such as Iran, the Jerusalem Post reported yesterday (see GSN, Nov. 7, 2008).
Responding last year to warnings about the danger posed by weaponized disease agents, the Israeli Defense Ministry launched a new biological defense research effort at the Ramle-based headquarters of its Home Front Command.
"Israel has the best solution to this threat in the world," Giora Eiland, former head of the Israeli national security council, said yesterday. "I can say with certainty that Israel has prepared a series of steps designed to deal with biological warfare."
"A bioweapon can be dispersed in a hall full of people and the consequences would only be felt a week later," Eiland added. "This is unlike a chemical attack, which would be felt immediately. The swine flu (that has broken out in Mexico and, apparently, other countries) helps illustrate the threat of bioweapons."
The challenge of detecting a disease agent quickly after it is released makes biological terrorism an especially significant threat, said Tzvika Doshnitzky, head of the Nuclear-Biological-Chemical Branch of the Israeli Defense Forces Medical Corps.
"In the past three decades, we have witnessed an increase in attempts by terrorist organizations to use biological warfare materials differently from the way they are used by states," Doshnitzky and two other scientists wrote in a journal article, Biological terrorism is alive and kicking (Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post, April 26).