Concern that Arab terrorists may unleash germ warfare against Israeli civilian population centers has been voiced in Congressional circles. Experts on chemical and biological warfare (CBW) said that it is possible that some extremist Arab group might try to introduce bacteriological agents into the water supply of Tel Aviv and other urban areas and that the possibility of retaliation in kind did not exist because of Israel’s “humanitarian principles.”
One expert who asked not to be identified by name said that if he were a resident of Tel Aviv, he would make sure that El Fatah prisoners and other Arabs drank from the same tap lines as Jews. He said that only the fear of poisoning their own people deterred the Vietcong from poisoning the water and food supplies of Saigon.
The issue of CBW in the Mideast arose following the disclosure by Rep. Robert W. Kastenmaier, a Wisconsin Democrat, that Egyptian military officers had been given CBW training by the U.S. Army in the U.S. four or five years ago. Rep. Kastenmaier charged in a letter to Secretary of the Army Stanley Resor last month that the Egyptians were among more than 500 foreign military specialists from 36 countries who received the training. Later the Egyptians used poison gas against civilians and Royalist forces in Yemen. The mustard gas was supplied to Egypt by the Soviet Army.
A member of Rep. Kastenmaier’s staff said that the Congressman was still unable to get from the Administration a complete list of all Arab officers from various countries being trained here in various military specialties including CBW. It was assumed that no Egyptian officers were trained in the U.S. since Cairo severed diplomatic relations with Washington during the June, 1967 Six-Day War.
Congressional circles also expressed concern that Egypt might use poison gas to dislodge Israeli forces from their positions on the Suez Canal. They felt, however, that this was not likely because the Israelis could retaliate with chemical warfare against Egyptian military targets.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.