Health authorities in various countries in Europe and the Middle East were on the alert on Wednesday (1 February), following a warning that Israeli oranges had been poisoned.
Health authorities in various countries in Europe and the Middle East were on the alert on Wednesday (1 February), following a warning that Israeli oranges had been poisoned. The warning came in the form of a letter from a group calling itself the "Palestine Command of the Arab Revolutionary Army". The claim proved to be true of some Israeli oranges found in West Germany and in Holland, where five children fell ill after eating them.
SYNOPSIS: Oranges are Israel's main agricultural export. Almost a million tons (tonnes) are shipped abroad each year earning the country more than 160 million dollars.
None, however, are grown on the Israeli occupied West Bank, where the Palestinian group claimed they had been poisoned. Nevertheless the Israeli Agriculture Minister was sure terrorists were involved.
In its warning letter the Palestinian group said the substance used to poison the oranges was mercury which was inserted by oppressed Palestinian workers to damage the Israeli economy.
Mercury was indeed found in some oranges. But scientists said that if they had been poisoned in Israel, they would have been bad on arrival.
Dutch health authorities who analysed contaminated oranges similar to ones eaten by the five children who became ill, said that the mercury had been inserted after the fruit arrived in Europe. They also said that the quantity was so small that there was no direct danger to health.