Panel chastises dumpers of blood

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JERUSALEM — The Israeli commission looking into the dumping of Ethiopian Jewish blood donations has flayed the health officials who decided to toss the blood.

But the panel, which presented its findings Sunday to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, did not recommend that disciplinary steps be taken against the officials involved in the secret disposal of the blood.

The commission, headed by Yitzhak Navon, was created in January after the Israeli daily Ma'ariv reported that blood banks had been routinely destroying donations from Ethiopian Jews because of what health officials thought was a high incidence of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, in the community.

The report prompted an angry reaction in the Ethiopian community, which has long felt discriminated against by the rest of Israeli society.

In January, some in the Ethiopian Jewish community had rioted in Jerusalem, calling the dumping of blood "racist."

According to the report, the commission found serious flaws in how policy had been set regarding blood donations from Ethiopians.

The report said that of the 1,400 known cases of AIDS in Israel, 550 of them came from the Ethiopian community.

The report recommended that new criteria be set so that blood donations are accepted on a case-by-case basis.