Military drill? Officials take air samples
Photo: Nimrod Glickman

Did IDF hold secret chemical drill?

Army, police representatives say chlorine-like odor that caused scare in central Israel a result of 'unknown gas' used in military drill; IDF later issues official denial of reports

Officials say they still don't know the source of the chlorine-like smell that caused a scare among hundreds of thousands of residents in the centeral Israel, but some reports suggest the foul smell was a result of a military drill.


Earlier Thursday, Ramat HaSharon Mayor Itzik Rochberger claimed the IDF's Home Front Command informed him of the odor's source but did not share the information with Ministry of Environment.


"Why was there no synchronization between officials," the mayor said, but did not reveal the exact nature of the substance.


Unknown gas? IDF denies reports (Photo: Nimrod Glickman)
Unknown gas? IDF denies reports (Photo: Nimrod Glickman)


Meanwhile, a central Israel resident suffering from a disease requiring chemotherapy was told by IDF officials that the substance which caused the foul odor was used in the framework of a military drill in Ramat Gan, just north of Tel Aviv.


The resident, Yael, recorded her conversation with an IDF Home Front command representative who revealed the information, and later spoke to police officials who said the material was spread by the Navy. However, officials refused to tell her what the substance was.


Yael, who was concerned about heading out for fear the smell could endanger her given her illness, spoke with various officials throughout the day, and shared the recordings with Ynet.


"The smell resulted from an IDF Home Front Command drill in Ramat Gan" an IDF representative told her. "This drill is being held by a certain Home Front unit, and we don't know precisely what gas is being used."


The army official claimed the substance was not poisonous.


'Navy behind drill'

Responding to a question about why the public was not informed of the drill, the army official said: "That's one of the aims, a sudden event. These are Home Front Command considerations."


The representative asked to check into the issue, and later called Yael back and told her: "As I said, I don't know what gas it is. Call the police, they have more information."


However, police officials had a different version, telling Yael the Navy was behind the drill, adding they had no idea what gas was used. The officials said that all patients undergoing chemotherapy are being told to seek medical attention, but were unable to say whether Yael should leave her home.


Responding to the reports, the army later said that "there was no connection between a substance used in the framework of a Home Front Command drill to the substance reported in central Israel."


The military claimed that a Home Front Command representative mistakenly linked the odor to the IDF drill in central Israel.


Meanwhile, Environmental Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan said he did not know the source of the odor, adding that according to samples taken by Ministry officials, the unknown substance did not pose any danger to residents.


Israeli security forces held numerous drills nationwide in the past year, with some observers suggesting the exercises came in the framework of IDF preparations for a possible strike in Iran.




פרסום ראשון: 05.04.12, 00:00
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