Irc Representative Confirms That No Poisoning Was Involved in West Bank Mystery Ailment
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Irc Representative Confirms That No Poisoning Was Involved in West Bank Mystery Ailment

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A Swiss doctor representing the International Red Cross has confirmed the findings of the Israeli Health Ministry that no poisonous substance was involved in the mystery ailment which felled nearly 600 persons on the West Bank, most of them teen-age Arab girls.

Dr. Franz Altherr, who will return to Geneva tomorrow, reported to Health Minister Eliezer Shostak that his investigations on the West Bank, discussions with West Bank and Israeli physicians and with some of the girls afflicted with the illness showed absolutely no indication of poison.

The Health Ministry and army medical officials came to the same conclusion last week. Nevertheless, two epidemologists from the United States Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta arrived in Israel today to carry out an independent investigation at the request of the Health Ministry. They are Drs. Phillip Landrigen and Bess Miller. Israel invited the independent investigation by the Disease Control center, an agency of the U.S. Public Health Service, to put to rest charges by some Palestinian officials that the West Bank teen-agers were victims of an Israeli plot.


(At the United Nations, members of the Security Council were scheduled to meet for consultations this evening to discuss an Arab request for an urgent Security Council meeting on the “poisoning” of Palestinians in the West Bank.

(The Arab states called for a meeting in a letter to the Council’s president, Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick of the United States. The letter was signed by Iraqi Ambassador Riyadh Al-Qaysi, chairman of the Arab group of states at the UN, who charged that “the mass poisoning” affected more than 1,000 Palestinian school girls.)


The ailment, first reported in the Jenin area last week, resulted in the hospitalization of hundreds of Arab high school girls who complained of fainting, dizziness, headaches and nausea. None of the cases was considered serious and most of the girls were quickly released from hospitals. A number were readmitted over the weekend, complaining of the same symptoms.

Israeli army doctors claimed that the symptoms, while genuine, were the result of mass hysteria induced by Palestinian terrorists to discredit Israel. That view was shared by Gen. Shlomo Illia, head of the Israeli civil administration on the West Bank.

Police reported today that they arrested the occupants of two cars who were touring Nablus warning the local residents not to drink the water because it was poisoned. The police did not identify them or say how many persons were arrested.

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