Head of the extra-parliamentary High Follow-up Committee for Arabs in Israel claims the Health Ministry licenses big pharmaceutical companies to conduct secretive medical trials
PALESTINIAN prisoners held in Israeli jails are being used as guinea pigs for medical experiments without their knowledge in a “war against humanity,” a leading Israeli politician warned today.
Mohammad Baraka, head of the extra-parliamentary High Follow-up Committee for Arabs in Israel, claimed that the Health Ministry had licensed big pharmaceutical companies to conduct the secretive medical trials.
“This is a clear war against humanity and international rights groups must take Israel to the ICC over its crimes against prisoners.
“There are reports that the Ministry of Health issued licences to several international companies to carry out medical tests on Palestinian and Arab prisoners in Israeli jails without their knowledge.
“This crime is added to the record of crimes against the Palestinians, mainly the prisoners inside Israeli jails, who are being denied their basic rights,” the former parliamentarian said.
The Israeli Ministry of Health was contacted for comment, however it had not responded at the time the Star went to press.
Its website claims all clinical trials with human subjects are conducted by a “responsible physician in a hospital setting in accordance with the Public Health Regulations.”
Those that are registered in the world database are publicised by the Health Ministry, which listed details of 2009 clinical trials online.
However Professor Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian from Israel’s Hebrew University caused controversy in February when she made a similar claim during a lecture series at New York’s Columbia University.
She stated that Israeli authorities have permitted large pharmaceutical firms to experiment on Palestinian prisoners, and have also been testing weapons on Palestinian children.
In 1997, Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported remarks made by Dalia Itzik, then chairman of a parliamentary committee which acknowledged the Israeli Ministry of Health had given pharmaceutical firms permits to test new drugs on prisoners.
It was claimed that 5,000 clinical tests had already taken place.
During the lecture, which is available online, Ms Shalhoub-Kevorkian also warns that “Palestinian spaces are laboratories” with Israeli military firms testing weapons on Palestinian children in the Palestinian neighbourhoods of occupied East Jerusalem.
She claimed that the industry was trialling new arms as “showcases” to boost security technologies and weapon sales in the global market.
Hebrew University issued a statement distancing itself from the claims, which it said were not representative of its views.