While concern mounts in Israel over the possibility that Syria’s chemical
weapons will fall into terrorist hands, the government has yet to allocate the
necessary budget needed to complete the production and distribution of gas masks
to the entire Israeli public.
Currently, around 4 million citizens have
received new gas masks under the IDF’s distribution program, which began in 2006
with the collection of the public’s old masks.
The IDF plans to reach 58
percent of the population by the end of January 2013 with an additional NIS 80
million that it received in May from the Treasury to keep the production line
for gas masks open.
“After that we do not yet know what will happen,” a
defense official said.
Distribution is carried out by the Israel Postal
Company, which comes to people’s homes and delivers the kits.
The IDF has
recorded a climb in the number of Israelis contacting the company in recent
months, understood to be sparked by reports of the possible proliferation of
Syria’s chemical weapons as well as a possible Israeli attack against Iran’s
The financing of the production and distribution of
gas masks to the public has been disputed by the Defense Ministry and the
Treasury for almost a year. The government only approved a budget of NIS 80
million in May, after the IDF Home Front Command ran out of money to continue
If a new budget is not approved by the end of the year, the
two Israeli companies which manufacture the gas masks will again be at risk of
shutting down, which would set back the project by several months even once a
new budget is obtained.