The possibility of a U.S. attack on Syria has led to a sharp rise in the number of Israelis picking of their gas masks. According to the Israeli postal service, which operates the mask distribution centers, on Sunday between 7 A.M. and 1 P.M. alone it received four times the usual number of requests.
- White House official: 'Very little doubt' Assad used chemical weapons against civilians
- To fund gas masks, Israel's Finance Ministry could raid National Insurance coffers
- Syria lets UN inspect chemical attack site, Washington says too late
- No longer able to watch from the sidelines, Israel must prepare for U.S. strike on Syria
- Back-to-school supplies? Check. Gas masks? Look at that line!
- In northern Israel, residents flock to lone gas mask distribution center
Statistics released by the postal service reveal that most residents of Israel's north have already acquired gas masks. Over 76 percent of Kiryat Shemona residents collected gas masks, and 72 percent of Nahayira residents have done so. In Haifa, 69 percent of residents have masks at home.
Other parts of the country have seen similar figures: 77 percent of Hod Hasharon residents have picked up their masks, 76 percent in Modi'in, 74 percent in Be'er Sheva, 73 percent in Ashdod and 71 percent in Ramat Gan. On the other hand, only 29 percent of Jerusalem residents have masks at home.
The Israeli government has yet to finalize the budget for gas masks for the coming years, and funding for distribution for 2014 has not yet been earmarked. By the end of this year, gas masks will have been distributed to about 60 percent of the population. To complete the distribution to the entire population, approximately NIS 1.3 billion more will be needed.
Another outlay that also needs to be funded is the refurbishing of gas masks, which are good for 25 years – at a cost another NIS 300 million a year.