Israeli Citizen's Verification Team Visits Nuclear Missile Base

Following up on the UN's inspection teams in Iraq, and the efforts of
anti-nuclear activists around the world, an Israeli Citizen's
Verification Team decided to pay a visit to a no-longer secret nuclear
missile base. The ICVT was made up of anti-nuclear, peace,
environmental, and political activists who gathered to protest
Israel's nuclear policy and the continuing imprisonment of Mordecai
Vanunu. (Including the Committee for Free Vanunu, Nuclear Holocaust
Preventers, the Israeli Young Communist League and others.)

Our team arrived at 'Egozi' air force base, located in the area
surrounded by Revadim, Kfar Menachem, and Zacharya. The base does not
appear on any map, and the gate has no welcoming sign with the name of
the base. The main entrance is located at the end of a short access
road that also leads to a nature preserve, where tourists might stop
for a picnic.

One member of the team used a Geiger counter to check radiation
levels. While the readings varied (1700 - 7,000), it was obvious that
they were more than 100 times the levels recorded in Jerusalem (.17).
I approached the gate to speak to the guard together with Smadar, who
held the Geiger counter. We showed the soldier, who told us he was a
reservist, the radiation levels we were reading. He was surprised and
interested. We explained that it was necessary to see the commander of
the base, to ask him to let our team inside to investigate the nuclear
weapons inside the base. He asked us what we would do if allowed
inside. I told him we would take notes for the UN and other bodies,
interested in reducing the risk of nuclear war. In the end I
explained why it was necessary for Israel to give up nuclear
weapons.

The other members of the team lined up opposite the gate, effectively
blocking it to traffic. They held up signs and banners calling for
nuclear disarmament, public debate on Israel's nuclear policy, and the
release of Mordecai Vanunu, who has spent nearly twelve years in
solitary confinement.

The duty officer arrived and asked me what I wanted. I told him that
he is suspected of planning war crimes to be committed in the future.
Nuclear weapons kill indiscriminately, destroying all life within a
particular radius, and permanently damaging the environment. Even if
never used on purpose, the existence of this base poses a risk to the
area in case of an accident. I reminded him that just following orders
was not considered a legitimate defense according to international
humanitarian law, and he should expect to be prosecuted for his role
in deploying weapons of mass destruction - if they should ever be
used. He was presented with a letter containing more in the same vein.


He refused to accept the letter, and informed the CVT that the police
had been called. After an hour, a single police vehicle arrived, with
two officers who did not have instructions to arrest anyone. After it
was made clear that we would leave rather than face arrest, they
seemed pleased and prepared to leave. At this point, the duty officer
came up to them and told them that someone was seen photographing the
base. The culprit was an American tourist who joined at the last
minute. He was terrified! In the end he was released without being
detained, due to the intervention of the taxi driver mentioned above.
The real photographer was never identified and photos are available
upon request.

The CVT left the site at approximately 6:00, promising to return again
with residents of neighboring communities. While the existence of the
base itself is an open secret in the area, information on the nuclear
issues at stake are relatively unknown.

Israel is confronted with two choices: a policy of peaceful relations
with the neighboring Arab states, backed up by conventional military
forces, or a policy of aggression backed up by non-conventional
weapons. As long as our government chooses the latter, other countries
have the impetus to develop non-conventional weapons of their own. The
alternative is built on enforceable treaties that will keep the Middle
East nuclear free. Including Israel.

By Charles Lenchner
Israeli Citizen Verification Team

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