Oct. 31, 2003
Security official: Palestinians can carry out chemical attack
By ETGAR LEFKOVITS
Palestinian terrorist organizations have the ability to carry out a chemical attack in Israel, but have refrained from doing so due to the repercussions of such an attack, a senior security official said this week.
"It is not a problem for terrorist organizations to obtain chemical materials, and they are aware of the advantages of such an attack; but on the other hand [they know] it would be considered breaking all the rules of the game," the official said at a briefing.
He noted that such an attack could kill hundreds or thousands of people, as opposed to the dozen or so people killed in conventional Palestinian suicide bombings.
Chemical materials are readily available at scores of factories across the country, he said, even at the seemingly innocuous Tnuva dairy in Jerusalem.
The security official's comments come just days before the Israel Police's annual major security drill, scheduled for Tuesday at National Stadium in Ramat Gan, where this year's scenario will be how to cope with a chemical attack on a school.
Traces of pesticides, rat poisoning, and other toxic chemicals have been found at the sites of more than five Palestinian bombings since the late 1990s, police spokesman Gil Kleiman said Thursday.
Such traces were found at the scene of the double suicide bombing in downtown Jerusalem in December 2001, in which 11 people were killed and 175 wounded. Nails and bolts packed into explosives used in the bombing had been dipped in rat poison.
No one was affected by the chemical, however, since the small amount of poison inside the bomb broke down as a result of the explosion.
Police said it appeared that the toxins used in that attack had been deliberately added to enhance the bombs' lethality, but did not rule out the possibility that the explosives used had been transported in containers which had previously contained toxic chemical substances.
The police spokesman said the most immediate concern remains bombing wounds caused by shrapnel, but said security officials are preparing for far more deadly attacks.
"We know that terrorist organizations are constantly looking for more efficient ways to kill people," he said.
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