Israel Has Million Gas Masks in Case of Chemical Attack - in Warehouses

While Israel stopped distributing gas masks in 2014 following the dismantling of Syria's chemical stockpile, it retained production facilities should the need arise.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Gas masks being distributed in Tel Aviv, August 2013.
Gas masks being distributed in Tel Aviv, August 2013.Credit: Moti Milrod
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

About a million gas masks meant to protect Israel's population against chemical weapons are currently sitting in the Home Front Command’s warehouses.

In 2014, the security cabinet decided to halt distribution of gas masks to the general public, but opted to keep them in storage and maintain the ability of two Israeli companies to produce more masks. Currently, masks are given only to civilian first responders. The soldiers who do receive masks – and this includes only certain combat troops – use a type different than those given to civilians.

In line with the 2014 decision, two companies – Supergum and Shalon – are still producing gas masks, which are then purchased by the Defense Ministry and sent straight to Home Front Command warehouses around Israel. The defense budget includes 80 million shekels ($22 million) for gas masks for both 2017 and 2018.

Since gas masks are only effective for 25 years, the Home Front Command also employs a civilian company whose job is to destroy masks that have passed their expiration date.

The cabinet’s 2014 decision stemmed largely from the dismantling of most of Syria’s chemical weapons stocks, although Israeli intelligence agencies said at the time that Syrian President Bashar Assad had probably retained a limited quantity of the weapons. The Syrian regime allegedly carried out a chemical attack on its own citizens on Tuesday.

“There’s currently no state threat in the realm of atomic, biological and chemical weapons, but this way, we preserve the knowledge and capabilities,” a senior Home Front Command officer told Haaretz regarding the decision to continue producing a small number of gas masks each year. “Not many places in the world manufacture masks, so we decided to preserve the knowledge and capabilities – until a different decision is made.”

The army’s Northern Command, he added, still has to consider the possibility of chemical weapons attacks, but the Home Front Command deals only with attacks on the civilian population, where no such danger is currently foreseen.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

The Orion nebula, photographed in 2009 by the Spitzer Telescope.

What if the Big Bang Never Actually Happened?

Relatives mourn during the funeral of four teenage Palestinians from the Nijm family killed by an errant rocket in Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip, August 7.

Why Palestinian Islamic Jihad Rockets Kill So Many Palestinians

בן גוריון

'Strangers in My House': Letters Expelled Palestinian Sent Ben-Gurion in 1948, Revealed

AIPAC

AIPAC vs. American Jews: The Toxic Victories of the 'pro-Israel' Lobby

Bosnian Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic speaks during a press conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia in May.

‘This Is Crazy’: Israeli Embassy Memo Stirs Political Storm in the Balkans

Hamas militants take part in a military parade in Gaza.

Israel Rewards Hamas for Its Restraint During Gaza Op