Hundreds of IDF soldiers who took part in anthrax vaccine testing over a decade ago will receive compensation from the government for damages and health complications they suffered as a result of the trials.
According to a deal brokered between the plaintiffs and the Defense Ministry, which was authorized by a court on Sunday, a NIS 21 million ($6 million) fund will be set up for the benefit of the soldiers who participated in the trials, Channel 2 reported.
Testing began in the early 2000s, when defense officials assessed that a biological attack containing anthrax pathogens was a present danger, and that Israel should develop vaccines for public deployment. Approximately 700 soldiers agreed to take part in the medical trials and were told they were completely safe.
However, according to the civil lawsuit filed in 2010, many of the volunteers suffered from serious side effects including digestion and respiratory issues, joint problems, rashes, headaches and more.
The Defense Ministry maintains that the research was conducted “with the utmost safety,” that the injections given to soldiers contained substances regularly used in standard vaccines, and that volunteers were never at risk of contracting anthrax. The ministry never denied, however, that the plaintiffs were entitled to medical treatment and compensation for their health issues.
“After four years of intensive deliberations the plaintiffs accepted the Defense Ministry’s offer,” a statement from the Central Region District Court said, adding that this was then ratified by court president Justice Hila Gerstel.
Each of the 92 soldiers who participated in the lawsuit is to receive NIS 36,000 in damages. The remaining NIS 18 million will be divided between the rest of the participants in the trials.
The plaintiffs expressed satisfaction with the deal, saying in a statement that they “set out to fight for the IDF’s moral image,” and expressed thanks to “those who sit in decision-making positions today for [their] fairness and the responsibility which guided them on the way to a settlement.”