At a meeting with representatives from government ministries and emergency services, Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan instructed attendees to increase their readiness and widen communications with local authorities.

He also asked local government representatives to examine the readiness of public bomb shelters.

Turning to delegates from the Environmental Protection Ministry, Erdan urged them to exercise their authority and decrease the quantity of hazardous substances near population centers.

“Although the security evaluation is that the chances of Israel being attacked are low, the security forces and home front protection organizations are prepared for all scenarios,” he said at the end of the meeting, which concluded on Wednesday evening.

On Thursday, the Home Front Command extended the opening hours for gas mask distribution centers, to cope with the massive demand of recent days.

Anxious Israelis have flooded the centers, anticipating an attack on Israel in response to any strike by the US and its allies on Syria over the regime’s probable use of chemical weapons.

The centers, based in Israel Postal Service offices, will now be open each day from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m., but the number of centers will not increase.

Gaby Ofir, the former director-general of the Homeland Security Ministry, said that “the number of gas masks in Israel today is not sufficient.”

Nonetheless, he added, “the kits are just a small link in the chain of preparedness of the State of Israel.”

Currently, there are enough masks for just 60 percent of the population.

The demand for the masks has created unruly scenes at some distribution centers, including a dispensary at the Hadar Mall in Talpiot, Jerusalem, which was forced to shut six hours early on Wednesday after a near riot by the waiting crowd.

Meanwhile, the IDF has announced that non- Israelis must purchase gas mask kits, as they are free only to citizens of the state.

“The gas mask distribution plan is meant for citizens of the State of Israel, and during time of emergency a situation assessment will be made about whether or not to supply gas masks to people who are residing in Israel and are not citizens,” said an IDF spokesman on Wednesday.

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