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.
SV; CU: oranges being picked in Israel (3 shots)
SV: oranges being emptied into bins.
CU: Israeli Agriculture Minister Ariel Sharon speaking in English.
SV: oranges being graded. (2 shots)
SV, GV: Israeli oranges being loaded onto ship (3 shots)
CU: suspect Israeli oranges being analysed in Dutch laboratory. (4 shots)
SHARON: "I think you all are familiar with terrorist activities against Israel which did not start now, and that have taken part for may years. And I think that is a step forward by the terrorist organisations. And I believe the only way to stop it is, of course, by active anti-terrorist activities by all the countries of the free world. That is what should be done."
The five Dutch children who fell sick after eating contaminated oranges were treated in hospital for 24 hours. They have since been released and a Dutch Health Ministry spokesman has said that they suffered no after-effects. The Palestinian Liberation Organisation has said it knows nothing of the Palestinian group who wrote the warning letter about the oranges.
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Background: 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.