(photo credit: )
Defense Minister Ehud Barak will not order the distribution of gas masks, despite intelligence reports that Syria has built up an arsenal of missiles that can carry biological and chemical warheads, Army Radio reported on Monday.
According to military assessments, Syria is nearing the end of an accelerated deployment of a large rocket arsenal of Katyusha and Scud missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv and causing thousands of civilian casualties.
IDF assessment: Syria thinks Olmert wants to launch war
However, Barak has decided to avoid taking any concrete action out of fear that distribution of gas masks could be interpreted as preparation for war.
MK Yuval Steinitz (Likud), who heads the Knesset Subcommittee on the Home Front's Preparedness, slammed the defense minister's decision.
"The decision not to hand out masks so as not to upset the Syrians reminds me of Moshe Dayan's unfortunate decision not to call up the reserves so as not to upset the Syrians and the Egyptians on the eve of the Yom Kippur War," he said.
"I say it's possible to defend the citizens of the state from threats, and whoever does not do this will stand before a commission of inquiry next to which the Winograd Committee will pale in comparison," he declared.