Drivers will only dart a glance at that mammoth structure nestled in the dunes south of Rishon Litsion southeast of Tel Aviv as they speed on their way. It is forbidden to turn off the Tel Aviv-Rishon Litsion highway onto the side road leading up to that building, which is barricaded by cement walls equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance and warning systems developed by Israel’s military industries.
That fortress-like structure is the Israeli Institute for Biological Research (IIBR) where Israel develops its biological and chemical weapons and prepares for any eventuality of biological or chemical warfare. It is the most top-secret military installation in Israel. So tightly is it guarded by military censorship that the Israeli press has to turn to Western sources for scraps of information made available to them, very intermittently, by special contacts inside the institute.
Only once has the Israeli press been given leeway to discuss what goes on behind those high security walls. That was last month when Avisha Klein filed a suit against the IIBR administration for harassment and emotional abuse. A long-term employee at the institute, Klein has served in various positions, one of which was as part of a team to develop an ointment to protect the skin from mustard gas. But this is only one of the many details that have come to light in the course of the proceedings, which have shed considerable light on the nature and scope of the institute’s work.