Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Gas Mask Supply Limited Due to Budget Cuts as Israelis Scramble to Prepare for Possible Syria Attack

August 28, 2013 2:08 pm 14 comments

An IDF soldier showing a child how to put on a gas mask. Photo: IDF.

Members of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, pointed to budget cuts Wednesday as the reason why 40% of the country’s population has been left without access to gas masks, as Israelis scramble to prepare for potential retaliation by Syria if the U.S. moves forward with an expected attack on the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, as a response to its use of chemical weapons.

MK Gilad Erdan, Israel’s Communications Minister, who is responsible for Israel’s postal authority, which distributes the gas mask kits and atropine syringes used as an antidote to some chemical weapons, called a meeting for late Wednesday with representatives of the Home Front Command and the National Emergency Authority for a new assessment of what preparations are still required, Israel’s Channel 10 reported.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Home Front Command call center lines collapsed due to the high number of inquiries for the gas mask kits. In Jerusalem, a distribution center was mobbed, and gas mask kits were looted, while in Sharon, Israelis rioted and the Army requested police to help restore order.

MK Eli Yishai, joint leader of the Shas party, and former Interior Minister, said funding to prepare Israelis for any war or unconventional terrorist attack, had been completely cut, and called on the government to fund production of more gas mask kits. The Jerusalem Post reported that NIS 1.3 billion ($364 million) is required to supply the 40% of Israeli’s who don’t have gas masks, in addition to NIS 300 million ($84 million) for maintaining and refurbishing them every year.

“We all hear the winds from the north, and this obligates the government to approve the funding in the relevant section,” MK Yishai told Channel 10, adding that, in the absence of more kits, the government should prioritize distribution to areas where the risk is greater.

MK Reuven Rivlin of Likud, a former Chairman of the Knesset, said: “There was a failure and now [the government] is working to create affordable kits, but the ultimate responsibility is on the State of Israel. Until a year ago, the state budget supported the production and distribution of kits, but in the last budget the state participation was zero due to economic and social distress.”

On Sunday, the Israel Postal Company said its call centers have been inundated with inquiries for gas mask kits that protect the user from many of the harmful toxins used in chemical weapons, with four times the number of calls, and a three-fold increase in orders. Normally, 2,000 kits are distributed in Israel each day.

The increased concern comes as U.S.-led Western armies have increased their rhetoric calling for a military response after Syrian rebel forces fighting the regime of President Assad claimed the regime used chemical weapons in an attack on a rebel stronghold, in a suburb outside of Damascus, last week.

14 Comments

  • There are Christians in the United States who would like to send Israel gas masks. Why doesn’t the Israeli government request them?

  • How long will it be before the Ezek 37 war will start.
    Greetings
    Joha

  • As ‘Mr. Entertainment’ Steve Allen lamented in 1992 and again in 2002 (shortly after his death) the United States of America is suffering from a ‘DUMBTH’ epidemic.

    Arguably the best-educated, most-civilized culture on the planet, what fool believes Israel is immune?

  • please stop overblowing the situation.
    There is no “possible” syrian attack. It will never happen.
    why?

    1…simply because syria is surrendered from all sides.

    2…ALL arab countries are against syria, except iran

    3…Assad now worries about his own safety

    4…if he fires one single missile towards Israel, he himself will become Israel’s and US target .

    I expect him to run for his own life very soon…

  • What good is a healthy budget when everyone is dead?

  • Anthony Dayton

    We here have no idea about Israel’s economy and the toll that defending it against a hostile world exacts,and really, it’s a moot point for the family who has no masks. Remember too, that the mask is no iron shield – it won’t help defend against rocket hits and other weapons. The Israelis have enough to worry about. When I recently visited the Golan Heights, I saw that the equipment was well serviced – no luxury in the quarters and base either. Some of the uniforms were well-worn and the glamour had long since been laundered.

    How about Algemeiner setting up a fund for the express purpose of raising donations for the purchase of gas masks, perhaps partnering with the JNF, B’nai Brith, and so on. Then we would all do something constructive. I’ll be glad to make the first donation.

  • If Syria retaliates to an American attack and Israelis die as a result, there should be hell to pay for those responsive for cutting funds so necessary to protect Israeli citizens against gas attacks. Did the budget cutters take leave of their senses?

  • With modern warfare, it’s one thing for Israel to cut unneeded military assets. Not having enough gas masks is inexcuseble and criminal.

  • With the billions in aid Israel gets from the States each year, one would think there would be some cash left to supply each of its citizens with a gas mask.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture First English-Language Trailer Debuts for Natalie Portman’s Hebrew Film ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness,’ Based on Amos Oz’s Memoir (VIDEO)

    First English-Language Trailer Debuts for Natalie Portman’s Hebrew Film ‘A Tale of Love and Darkness,’ Based on Amos Oz’s Memoir (VIDEO)

    The first English-language trailer for Natalie Portman’s directorial debut — A Tale of Love and Darkness — based on Israeli author Amos Oz’s memoir, was released on Thursday. The movie, originally filmed in Hebrew, tells the story of Oz’s childhood in Jerusalem at the end of the British Mandate and the early years of Israel’s independence. Portman, who was born in Israel and speaks fluent Hebrew, plays the lead role of Fania, the author’s mother. She struggles to raise her son as she deals with inner demons, a […]

    Read more →
  • Features As Berlin Prices Rise, Israelis Turn East for German Real-Estate Bargains

    As Berlin Prices Rise, Israelis Turn East for German Real-Estate Bargains

    JNS.org – Sonnenallee, a street in Berlin’s Neukölln district, looks like it comes straight out of an Arab city — so much so that it goes by the nickname “Gaza Strip.” Kebab and bakery shops are advertised in Arabic; men sit in men-only coffee shops; and bridal shop windows showcase glittery, not-so-stylish gowns. But take a random turn, and you’ll find a swath of bars, burger joints, and Indian restaurants where hip Berliners announce that they have arrived to urban coolness. […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Slays in ‘Wonder Woman’ Trailer (VIDEO)

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot Slays in ‘Wonder Woman’ Trailer (VIDEO)

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot engages in fierce action sequences in the new Wonder Woman trailer, which Warner Bros. premiered during the San Diego Comic-Con on Saturday. The nearly 3-minute trailer, the first to debut for the superhero film, shows scenes of Diana, princess of the Amazons, fighting alongside men in the battle against the world’s toughest enemies. The first shot of the video shows Wonder Woman discovering a man, Steve Trevor (played by actor Chris Pine), washed ashore. The clip then takes viewers to the all-female island where Wonder Woman was born. […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture A Theatrical Look at Diplomacy and the Oslo Accords (REVIEW)

    A Theatrical Look at Diplomacy and the Oslo Accords (REVIEW)

    Is diplomacy worthwhile, even if the end result isn’t what we hoped for? That is the question, among many others, posed by the new play Oslo, by J.T. Rogers. Making its New York debut at Lincoln Center, the play examines the secret diplomatic process that led to the historic 1993 peace accords. The character of Shimon Peres makes an appearance onstage — and he, along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, tower over the proceedings. But they mainly do so in absentia. Instead, […]

    Read more →
  • Spirituality/Tradition Sports Israeli Trailblazer Dean Kremer Brings Jewish Values to Nascent Pro Baseball Career

    Israeli Trailblazer Dean Kremer Brings Jewish Values to Nascent Pro Baseball Career

    JNS.org – Other than being part of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, Sandy Koufax and Dean Kremer have something else in common: a respect for Jewish tradition. Koufax — who was recently ranked by ESPN as the best left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball (MLB) history — decided not to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series because the game fell on Yom Kippur. “I would do the same,” Kremer said in an interview. Last month, the 20-year-old Kremer became […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Lead Guitarist of British Rock Band Queen Asks Adam Lambert to Sing in Hebrew During Upcoming Israel Concert

    Lead Guitarist of British Rock Band Queen Asks Adam Lambert to Sing in Hebrew During Upcoming Israel Concert

    The famed lead guitarist of British rock band Queen, Brian May, encouraged Jewish singer-songwriter Adam Lambert to perform in Hebrew during their upcoming joint concert in Israel, an entertainment industry advocacy organization reported on Tuesday. During a recent interview with Israeli television personality Assi Azar, May was played a 2005 video of Lambert singing the popular song Shir L’Shalom, (Song for Peace). May was so impressed by Lambert’s singing of the Hebrew track that he told the American singer, “We have to do that. Let’s […]

    Read more →
  • Sports Kenyan Marathoner to Compete for Israel in Rio Olympics

    Kenyan Marathoner to Compete for Israel in Rio Olympics

    JNS.org – Kenyan-born marathoner Lonah Chemtai is expected to compete for Israel at the Olympics Games in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil next month after gaining a last minute approval. “I am very proud [to represent Israel] and I hope to achieve a new personal best time,” Chemtai told Reuters. Chemtai, who grew up a rural village in western Kenya, first came to Israel in 2009 to care of the children of her country’s ambassador to Israel. The 27-year-old runner recently gained […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Will Laughs Lead to Love on Show About Orthodox Dating?

    Will Laughs Lead to Love on Show About Orthodox Dating?

    To date or not to date? That is not the question for most Modern Orthodox singles in New York. The question is when will they find their future spouses, and when will their families stop nagging them about having babies? Inspired by the success of the Israeli show “Srugim,” Leah Gottfried, 25, decided she would create and star in her own show, “Soon By You.” “Dating is so serious already,” Gottfried said. “We wanted to take a lighter approach and laugh at the […]

    Read more →