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September 2, 2013 1:19 pm

Israeli Comptroller to Review Gas Mask Distribution Debacle

avatar by Joshua Levitt

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

Israel’s Comptroller Joseph Shapira will review complaints over the state’s distribution of gas masks last week, Israel’s Globes newspaper reported on Sunday. The flawed process  failed to provide masks to 40% of Israelis who were left vulnerable to possible chemical weapons attacks.

As the U.S. military presence in the region bulked up in anticipation of a possible attack on Syria over the country’s alleged use of chemical weapons last week, Israelis began preparing for a potential retaliatory attack by Syria, scrambling to secure gas mask kits and syringes of chemical weapon antidote atropine. But  supplies were very limited due to budget cuts, while disorganization meant long lines and chaos. A disproportionate amount of elderly remain without any protection.

The Office of the Comptroller said that it has examined the gas mask issue multiple times in the past, and has always found flaws, Globes said. In the Comptroller’s latest report, published in August, Shapira recognized that no gas masks had been produced for a large part of the population, despite a government decision to provide gas masks for everyone, Globes said. Shapira also noted the disorganization in the gas mask distribution plan.

The formal complaint to the Comptroller was made by MK Nachman Shai (Labor). Shapira has asked Knesset State Control Committee chairman MK Amnon Cohen (Shas) to hold an urgent meeting to address the issue.

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