'State Funds Enough to Equip Only 55% of Israelis With Gas Masks'

GOC Home Front Commander announces that IDF will not be able to meet government's demand to supply masks to all citizens without additional funding.

The IDF Home Front Commander announced on Wednesday that the Home Front will not be able to supply gas masks to the entire population of the country because the government has only provided about half of the funding necessary to do so.

GOC Home Front Commander Maj. Gen. Yair Golan said that since the operation was launched one year ago, the Home Front has distributed 2.4 million gas masks, serving 31% of Israeli citizens.

Gas mask destribution in Ashdod Ilan Assayag 9/7/2010
Ilan Assayag

Maj. Gen Golan told a press conference that the Home Front intends to distribute another 1.8 million gas masks in the next two years, which will mean that 55% of Israeli citizens will have been provided with a gas mask.

Golan said that the government made a decision to provide gas masks to 100% of the citizenry, but that since only 55% of the cost of the operation was authorized, gas mask production will be stopped at the end of the calendar year.

Golan and Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, who is responsible for the Home Front, discussed this year's annual preparedness test, which will take place in 80 different cities, towns and villages during the week of June 19.

This year's preparedness test will take place during the evening hours, to allow families to simulate scenarios where they will have to take cover in reinforced rooms. It will also include for the first time personal text messages sent to the cellular phones of people who would be expected to be in the area affected by a rocket attack.

As early as July of last year, Golan warned that the defense establishment failed in its mission to provide all of Israel's citizens with gas masks. "We have failed to provide [gas masks] to everyone, and we will continue to fail," he said.