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Gas mask production not sufficient for entire public
By YAAKOV KATZ
24/07/2012
Around 4 million citizens have received new gas masks, IDF plans to reach 58 percent of the population by the end of January 2013.
 
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 nuclear facilities.

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 the project.

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.
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