‘Cast thy bread’: Israeli biological warfare during the 1948 War

Benny Morris, Benjamin Z. Kedar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article describes Israel's bacteriological warfare campaign during the first Arab-Israeli war of 1948. Over the decades following that war rumours circulated that Israel had used bacteria, alongside conventional weaponry, in its battle against Palestine's Arabs and the surrounding Arab states. The declassification of files in the Israeli military archives, our discovery of a crucial letter in private hands, and the publication of a handful of memoirs relating to 1948 have enabled us to bridge the divide between rumour and fact; to explain the campaign's origins; to reconstruct its stages, beginning in April 1948; to identify who was involved–including Israel's prime minister, David Ben-Gurion and the Israeli army's de facto chief of general staff, Yigael Yadin, as well as leading Israeli scientists–and who actively opposed it; and to delineate and assess what the campaign actually achieved or failed to achieve. In sum, this study helps to understand various aspects of the 1948 War.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)752-776
Number of pages25
JournalMiddle Eastern Studies
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023


  • 1948 War
  • Biological warfare
  • David Ben-Gurion
  • Moshe Dayan
  • Yigael Yadin
  • Yohanan Ratner

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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