Soldiers as subjects of medical research: Comments on Hassidim et al. on ethical standards of the Israel Defense Force)

Asa Kasher*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debate


In 2008 a group of former soldiers of the Israel Defense Force (IDF) sued the Ministry of Defense and others, claiming they had suffered from medical problems that resulted from an IDF medical experiment in which they had participated in the 1970s. There was no compelling medical evidence with respect to causal relationships between their participation in the experiment and their later medical problems. The President of the District Court, Justice Hila Gerstl, appointed me, with the consent of the parties, to write a deposition with respect to the ethical aspects of the case. My comments in the sequel rest on my deposition, applying not only to the case that had been under discussion but also to each and every case of experimentation. My arguments, strictly confined to the ethical aspects of the case, as opposed to the legal aspects and the debated facts, were not in favor of either party. As a result the state and the former soldiers reached an agreement approved by the court. One of the major points made in that deposition is that the Nuremberg and Helsinki principles follow from those of medical ethics in general, except for the requirement to have an Institutional Review Board (IRB). A second major point is that under very strict conditions, more than what is usually required, soldiers may participate in medical experiments administered by their military force. However, new conscripts during their first months of their service should not take part in medical experimentation within their military force.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13
JournalIsrael Journal of Health Policy Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 9 Mar 2017


  • Conscripts as human subjects of experimentation
  • Helsinki principles
  • Human subjects of experimentation
  • Israel defense force
  • Israel defense force code of ethics
  • Medical ethics
  • Medical experimentation
  • Nuremberg code


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