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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.

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