Fearing Syrian chemical attacks, unprecedented numbers of Israelis flock to post offices to claim gas masks. 

In the wake of reports of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s deadly chemical weapons attack on hundreds of civilians,  and the apparently imminent U.S. intervention in response, Israeli post-offices serving as gas mask distribution centers report that requests for gas masks have quadrupled. Statistics released by the postal service reveal that most residents of northern Israel have already acquired gas masks.

Some 60 percent of Israelis currently possess gas masks. In order to equip the remaining citizens, a budget allocation of $362 million is necessary for 2014. In addition to collecting gas masks, Israelis are cleaning out safe rooms and neighborhood bomb shelters. In older neighborhoods in which houses are without safe rooms, shelters have long been used for community activities, after-school programs, and communal prayer. The Homefront Security Ministry has found many Israeli bomb shelters to be inadequate given the security threats that Israel faces.

“The country must be ready for every possibility that could harm and disturb citizens’ everyday lives,” said Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Subcommittee on Homefront Preparedness chairman Eli Yishai. He maintains that while there has been an increase in the number of bomb shelters in Israel, there is a deficiency in preparedness for unconventional attacks.


Israel, meanwhile, has called for international action to halt the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Israel “expects this to end. The most dangerous regimes on earth must not have the most dangerous weapons on earth.” President Shimon Peres added, “Syria has a ruler who kills people with no compunction, and in a horrible manner. No one can ignore the deaths of children. This is the time for an international effort to remove chemical weapons from Syria. We will not allow those weapons to remain there, not in the hands of Bashar al-Assad, or anyone else.”

By Rachel Avraham

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