The government must increase the budget for gas mask production, Knesset Foreign
Affairs and Defense Subcommittee on Home Front Preparedness chairman Eli Yishai
said on Wednesday.
In a special subcommittee meeting in light of the
situation in Syria, Yishai pointed out that the government did not allocate any
funds for “Operation Sandstorm” – home front preparedness for war or
unconventional attacks – in the 2014 state budget.
“There are serious
deficiencies in the budget. When something happens, it’ll be too late to supply
citizens with masks and syringes,” said Yishai, who was a member of the previous
government’s security cabinet.
Although his subcommittee sent letters to
government ministries before the budget was approved, the situation has not
changed, and Yishai called for the Finance Ministry to allocate funds for home
Yishai implied that part of the reason Operation
Sandstorm was defunded is a turf war between the Defense Ministry and Home Front
Defense Ministry over their areas of authority.
“The budget shows the
government’s priorities, so [the lack of funding] seems very strange to me,” he
Yishai also criticized the government’s decision not to fund the
continued manufacturing of gas masks, saying that they will not be able to
import masks for children.
Not only must the government not stop funding
gas mask factories, it should pay to immediately increase production, and within
a month there will be sufficient supplies in case of a war, he
“The home front is somewhat ready for [unconventional attacks] in
2013, but insufficiently so, and not prepared at all for 2014,” Yishai
At the same time, Yishai said the public should not panic and
should listen to government instructions.
“The Jewish people has been
through a lot in its history, and we have to be ready for any scenario. We have
to be able to make immediate decisions,” he asserted.
MK Reuven Rivlin
(Likud Beytenu), a subcommittee member, called home front preparedness the
“major responsibility” of the state.
“Until a year ago, the budget
supported manufacture and distribution of gas masks, but this year the budget is
zero because of economic problems. In light of recent developments, the budget
and production should be brought back, and [the subcommittee is] working with
the government on a solution for mass distribution,” Rivlin
According to Rivlin, “there is no doubt that the government
made a mistake and is only fixing it now when the danger is imminent.” Rivlin
also pointed out that most Israelis have gas masks from 25 years ago, which must
“The public should be careful, but not nervous. Our ability
to deal with chemical threats depends on our strength, and not necessarily on
supplies,” he said.